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The Doctrine of the Trinity Paperback – 1 Aug 1998

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: International Scholars Publications (1 Aug. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573093092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573093095
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.6 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Sir Anthony Buzzard teaches at the Atlanta Bible College. Charles F. Hunting is a retired pastor and college business manager.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
"The Doctrine of the Trinity" is a book defending non-Trinitarian Christianity from a theological and historical viewpoint. The authors, Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, founded a non-Trinitarian denomination in the United States, known as Restoration Fellowship. It's affiliated with the Church of God General Conference.

Buzzard and Hunting deny both the Trinitarian position (Jesus was God the Son incarnate) and the "Arian" position, according to which Jesus while not fully divine was nevertheless a pre-existent heavenly being. Thus, the authors reject the position of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which claim that Jesus was the archangel Michael. Buzzard and Hunting holds that Jesus was not pre-existent in any sense. He was fully a human being, albeit one supernaturally conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of Mary. Jesus was the Messiah in a "Jewish" sense, and therefore not in any sense part of the Godhead.

Many of the author's concrete arguments would be familiar to readers versed in this controversy: "God" or "gods" can mean different things in the Old Testament, "worship" in the New Testament can also mean different things depending on context, Jesus affirmed that God was One, Paul differentiates between God the Father and Jesus Christ, etc. No verse in the Bible explicitly mentions the Trinity or explains what this could possibly mean. Other arguments might be more specific to Buzzard and Hunting, since they reject all pre-existence. Thus, they believe that neither Luke nor Matthew knew anything about Jesus prior to his supernatural conception. Buzzard and Hunting also openly sympathize with two early "heretics", Paul of Samosata and Photinus of Sirmium.

But what about the passages in Paul which seem to imply pre-existence and equality with God?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Impressive piece of bible scholarship which exposes the mainline christian doctrine of the trinity as being unsound and non-biblical. He writes very well.
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[...]

[...]
Here are two challenges to this book, which show that Anthony Buzzard et al are writing nonsense.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 49 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The implicit doctrine 24 April 2013
By Ashtar Command - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Doctrine of the Trinity" is a book defending non-Trinitarian Christianity from a theological and historical viewpoint. The authors, Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting, founded a non-Trinitarian denomination in the United States, known as Restoration Fellowship. It's affiliated with the Church of God General Conference.

Buzzard and Hunting deny both the Trinitarian position (Jesus was God the Son incarnate) and the "Arian" position, according to which Jesus while not fully divine was nevertheless a pre-existent heavenly being. Thus, the authors reject the position of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which claim that Jesus was the archangel Michael. Buzzard and Hunting holds that Jesus was not pre-existent in any sense. He was fully a human being, albeit one supernaturally conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of Mary. Jesus was the Messiah in a "Jewish" sense, and therefore not in any sense part of the Godhead.

Many of the author's concrete arguments would be familiar to readers versed in this controversy: "God" or "gods" can mean different things in the Old Testament, "worship" in the New Testament can also mean different things depending on context, Jesus affirmed that God was One, Paul differentiates between God the Father and Jesus Christ, etc. No verse in the Bible explicitly mentions the Trinity or explains what this could possibly mean. Other arguments might be more specific to Buzzard and Hunting, since they reject all pre-existence. Thus, they believe that neither Luke nor Matthew knew anything about Jesus prior to his supernatural conception. Buzzard and Hunting also openly sympathize with two early "heretics", Paul of Samosata and Photinus of Sirmium.

But what about the passages in Paul which seem to imply pre-existence and equality with God? What about the Word in John, and other startling statements in the same gospel? The authors believe that passages seemingly implying pre-existence should be read in a "Jewish" manner. The Jews didn't believe in a pre-existent Messiah, but sometimes figuratively referred to him in such a manner to express God's eternal foreknowledge or plan, in which the Messiah plays the central part. In the same figurative way, Jews said that the Torah was pre-existent. The authors regard Wisdom and other personified divine attributes as impersonal. In the same way, the Word or Logos is an impersonal divine power, not a personal and pre-existent Son. Naturally, they reject the Trinitarian notion that Jesus is talking about pre-existence and divinity when claiming "Before Abraham was, I am". This too is figurative or an expression of rank rather than chronological priority.

The book isn't bad, and the main point of the authors is obviously correct: the Trinity is never explicated in the New Testament, and in its present form hails from the fourth century. However, it could still be argued that the divinity of Jesus is implicit in the NT. There are some other problems with Buzzard's and Hunting's theology, as well. Thus, the authors believe that Jesus could save humanity only if he was fully human, which rules out both divinity and angelic pre-existence. However, the authors affirm the virgin birth. But being supernaturally conceived by God's energy *also* sets Jesus apart from other humans, including his own siblings! The authors point out that neither the detractors of Jesus in Nazareth, nor his own family, knew him as divine. A historical-critical scholar could point out that they didn't seem to know about his virgin birth, either! Buzzard and Hunting feel justified in affirming the virgin birth due to the prophecy of Isaiah, but *no* Jew interpreted the relevant passage as referring to a virgin birth of the Messiah. Yet, the position of the Jews on monotheism or Messiah-ship is important to the authors in all other contexts. Why not here? Indeed, the idea of a virgin birth is alien to Judaism, but very common in paganism where semi-divine heroes often emerge in various supernatural ways. At another point, the authors admit progressive revelation, as obviously they must, but if Paul knew thing unknown to the Gospel writers, why can't the Church fathers have known things unknown to Paul?

Buzzard's and Hunting's interpretation of the Word also strikes me as problematic. On the one hand, they seem to suggest that Jesus didn't exist in any sense whatsoever before the supernatural conception in Mary's womb. Here, it sounds as if Jesus was the Word made flesh only in a figurative sense. He was a creation of the Word, which is God's creative energy. In other passages, however, the authors seem to believe that Jesus was the Word made flesh in a more literal sense. The Word really did become Jesus. But the Word, as God's creative activity, is supposed to be fully divine! If so, it's difficult to see the *real* difference between the position of the two authors and the "Arian" position, since in both cases something divine manifests (or incarnates?) as a human. I realize that this might not be what Buzzard and Hunting had in mind, but their position strikes me as contradictory and unclear on this point. An outsider, a Jew or Muslim say, might wonder what the fuzz is really about between Trinitarians, Arians and the Restoration Fellowship!

The above are theological problems, and since I'm not a Christian, I admit I'm playing "the Devil's advocate" here (pun unintended). However, I also have some historical-critical issues with the book. As already mentioned, the Jewish position on monotheism and the Messiah are important reference points for Buzzard and Hunting. Recent scholarly research suggests, however, that Judaism was extremely heterogeneous at the time of Jesus and the apostles. This makes it problematic to argue that Jesus must have been obviously "Jewish" in the Rabbinical sense. The authors have a tendency to project Rabbinical Judaism onto the time of Jesus, but they are forced to admit that Jesus often sounded enigmatic to his fellow Jews, including the Pharisees (the precursors of the Rabbis). This is no doubt true, but suggests that Jesus wasn't as obviously "main-stream Jewish" as the authors wish to believe. Buzzard and Hunting also project the old Judaism of the Torah on the time of Jesus, thereby arriving at a Judaism that denies the immortal soul. But this was *not* the position of the Pharisees or the later Rabbinical Jews, but rather the position of the authors themselves (who believe in soul-sleep á la Adventism).

Many recent studies of first century Judaism suggests that it might not have been monotheist in "our" sense of that term, since belief in and supplication of powerful intermediary figures between God and man were common. These intermediaries included angels and exalted humans like Enoch and Elijah. The line dividing these exalted persons and the personified attributes of God (such as Wisdom) wasn't always clear. The angel Yahoel even wore part of God's holy name! While this isn't the same thing as the Trinity of Athanasius or Augustine, it *is* a more complex conception of God, his powers and his heavenly intermediaries than the super-strict monotheism demanded by Buzzard and Hunting. It's even more close to the "Arian" position they also reject. Indeed, it's not even clear whether traditional Judaism was strictly monotheist in the Rabbinical-Protestant sense of that term.

These themes are explored further in Larry Hurtado's book "How on earth did Jesus become a god" and Margaret Barker's "The Great Angel". Hurtado believes that Jesus received corporate worship from the early Christians of a kind usually reserved to God (Yahweh) even by the most deviant Jewish groups, suggesting that the apostles really had introduced a novel element not to be found anywhere in Judaism. The novelty would be that Jesus was so exalted that he in effect took over some of God's exclusive prerogatives. Of course, Buzzard and Hunting could always claim that this is progressive revelation and that Jesus received these extraordinary honours only after the resurrection and ascension. But even if we grant this, it still means that the roots of Trinitarian (or Arian) thinking go much deeper than Platonizing Church Fathers, scheming bishops or vile Roman emperors...

I nevertheless recommend "The Doctrine of the Trinity" for those who want a competent defence of the non-Trinitarian position. Another important book of a similar kind is "Truth in translation" by Jason David BeDuhn.
63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exhaustive and fine toothed review all Christians Need 9 May 2000
By Captain Snackbar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the best books on the trinity I have ever read. Finally, a book that does not seek to bash the other side, but rather show them the truth. The authors are very careful in their analysis of scripture and put to rest the controversial doctrine of the trinity. If you are a trinitarian, this book will not offend you, it will merely show you where others have mislead you, and if you do not believe in the trinity, it will affirm what you already know. Many other works are cited, and most of all the Holy Word of Yahweh! Buy this book, you won't regret it.
126 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple Enough to Ring True, Scholarly Enough to Stand 15 Mar. 2001
By KW - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will probably never be read or debated in circles that would re-open a widespread doctrinal dispute. But that does not diminish its possible effect upon people.
This book should come with a warning: WARNING: CAREFUL THOUGHT AND CONSIDERATION OF THIS MATERIAL CAN LEAD TO REJECTION.
If individual Christians ever freed themselves from the Councils and Creeds ... (as well as the fear of being labeled a "heretic" by friends and relatives) they would find that this book gives them the chance to confirm what they ALWAYS suspected:. That God and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus... are who the Bible clearly says they are...and that They are not the conglomeration of hundreds of years of speculation about a few difficult verses of scripture. This book gives average folks a chance to replace nonsense with sense.
This book does clearly show that plain logic and scholarly work still produce the best reading. If you want to assure that YOUR faith does not stand in man's cunning ability to conjure up imaginative explanations, you should read this book.
42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Plausible Alternative to Christian Orthodoxy 29 May 2005
By Stephen Triesch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this book authors Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting assemble scriptural and scholarly evidence against the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity, i.e., the idea that God consists of three distinct and eternal Persons - Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Buzzard and Hunting argue that, despite its centrality in Christian theology, the doctrine of the Trinity is supported by "proof texts" that are almost always ambiguous and subject to alternate interpretations that are more cogent than the traditional Trinitarian interpretation.

It is important to recognize that the authors are not skeptics, modernists, atheists, or New Agers. They remain Christians - and fairly conservative ones at that - who believe that Jesus is best understood as the Jewish Messiah, a human being chosen by God to teach the world the true nature and will of God and to live out the will of God in human form. The authors are not motivated by a desire to "modernize" theology, but to return it to its authentic original understanding, consistent with Jewish monotheism.

The book is thus a valuable addition to the Christological debate, but it is not without its flaws. It could have been better organized - the same arguments are repeated in different chapters - and the full implications of the rejection of the divinity of Jesus are not drawn out, e.g., how does this affect the doctrine of the atonement, which is (seemingly) a central theme of the New Testament? Be that as it may, the book raises serious questions about a central claim of Christian orthodoxy, a claim which is supremely relevant given the challenge of Islam.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brave Attempt to Clarify and Demystify 20 Dec. 2012
By Unbeaten Trails - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book Overview Number of readings: 2

For most Christians the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity remains just that, a mystery. This book presents to the reader a logical and compelling argument that the scriptures have been used to manufacture and support such a mystery and that from a correct sola scriptura point of view, the doctrine, and consequently the mystery, ceases to exist. It only exists for those who have sided with the Platonized Church Fathers, beginning with the early apologist Justin Martyr and culminating with the official creed of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. Since then many have taken into hand to prop up the doctrine with what they believed were unshakeable foundational verses. Ironically, the authors make the reader aware that some of these foundational verses, when reexamined by Trinitarian scholars, have been found to be cracked due to the realization that they were spurious in accurately depicting such a doctrine. The authors maintain that many Trinitarian theologians themselves have weakened their own argument by no longer upholding certain scriptures that were once considered foolproof in representing the Doctrine of the Trinity. Furthermore, and perhaps more disturbing to the genuine truth seeker, the authors reveal the actual rewriting and subsequent altering of the scriptures in order to be compliant with the trend of orthodoxy. Tragically, a very different Bible emerges, one that is quite removed from the message of the original Hebraic scrolls.

After 343 pages one is left with the question. Does one choose a docetic, hypostatic, God-man Messiah, a Jesus formulated (some Trinitarians would argue -- progressively revealed) over the years by church authorities/theologians... or the human being Jesus, King of israel, the Messiah, Son of the most high God as depicted from a Hebraic viewpoint of scripture? Should the Jesus of the Bible be seen as anything less than coequal, coeternal, preexistent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in relation to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, then one is no longer in compliance with the ruling creeds. One no longer has a Trinity as defined by orthodoxy. One's salvation may be on the line and subsequently one faces the charge of heresy and will inevitably be branded a heretic or cultist by otherwise minded Christians. The authors make the assertion that had the early authorities not departed from the correct approach to the scriptures, i.e., the Hebraic approach, we never would have been embroiled in such a merciless debate. A debate which historically has cost countless dissenters to pay with their lives at the hands of those religious authorities who ruled the day. The legacy left to us today is the shredded unity of the one body of Christ into thousands of factions. The authors tackle several aspects of the question with openness citing many scriptures as well as examples from authoritative sources both Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian. The Bibliography contains 163 cited sources and the Scripture Reference Guide contains no less than 717 verses. An Author Index and Subject Index is also included which is a valuable time saving aid for ready referencing. Having formerly been schooled and practiced in Trinitarian theology gives the authors the added benefit of understanding the Trinity's historical roots and construction, how Trinitarians think, and why they continue to uphold their arguments into the present day. The authors are not reserved in their tone when presenting their case. They are straightforward in their presentation and are fearless in confronting the former and current establishment of religious authorities. They take them to task by quoting them and then presenting the reader with examples of how these authorities end up contradicting themselves in the grand scheme of things. Such candidness and bluntness makes for interesting reading.

Probably the most salient section of the book deals with the authors' treatment of the Gospel of John (drawing from no less than 122 verses of scripture). They are not content with the way it has been handled historically. They assert that if it can be shown that there is no preexistent Christ, the Doctrine of the Trinity can no longer be touted as Christianity's cornerstone. The authors maintain that if we read the Gospel of John with Hebraic eyes, the burdens that have been placed upon it will be lifted and the book, figuratively speaking, "comes down to earth," viz., is once again in harmony and on equal footing with the other gospel writers. As it stands, the synoptic gospels lend no support to their fellow evangelist's ideas of preexistence. It leaves one scratching their head as to John's state of mind mainly because in general, most Christians are in agreement that the scriptures cannot and should not contradict themselves. God, who is perfect, who chose to reveal his word through holy men, would then be seen as opposing himself. The question then arises: If Jesus declared to his disciples that they would be led by the Comforter into all truth (John 14: 16,17, 26; 15:26; 16:13), how could God, being the author, allow a maverick to corrupt the message from the beginning with a philosophy which is abstract and that cannot be rectified with his contemporaries nor with the majority of scripture? Confusion would certainly be the outcome, not truth. Truth, when believed, brings peace and comfort to the believer and to the one body as a whole. Unfortunately, confusion and discomfort has been the former and present outcome of interpreting the Gospel of John from a Gnostic point of view. The authors make the point that the Bible is an Eastern book and therefore must be understood in light of eastern customs, idioms and ways of thinking. To impose western concepts and interpretations on an eastern book is akin to telling God to "keep quiet, we have a better understanding and therefore a better way of interpreting your words." The authors maintain that once the Bible is allowed to exegete itself from its original Hebraic perspective, i.e., God's original viewpoint, one can then view the Gospel of John with the correct lenses, viz., thus fitting in context with the rest of scripture. Seemingly difficult scriptures are then seen from the Hebraic-eastern mindset rather than a Hellenistic-western point of view. The Gospel of John then fits within the immediate and remoter context and no longer distances itself from the rest of scripture. The scriptures are then allowed to speak louder than theological/philosophical impositions. God's original intent is once again given a voice and accurately interpreted for the benefit of those who are seeking a clearer understanding of His word.

Critique

From a critical point of view (and a layman's one at that), I felt the need for more discussion and clarification on certain topics and verses of scripture. I suppose volumes could be written on this subject and that the authors had to draw the line somewhere to avoid deviating from their main thesis. However, one example is the handling of Matt. 28:19. The authors present this verse a total of four times. This text is important because it has traditionally played a major role in establishing the Trinitarian concept. There are sources that indicate this verse is spurious. That an interpolation had crept into the original text in order to propound and root the new theology into the minds of early Christians. This is never mentioned by the authors. Suspicion of this verse is aroused immediately because if this was a command, instruction or appointment from the master himself (as the verse seems to indicate), why was it never carried out in its entirety by those closest to him? The N.T. (Book of Acts) indicates that the early believers were baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Peter); "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Phillip) "in the name of the Lord" (Peter). The baptismal formula is only partially carried out; quite different from what is stated in Matthew 28:19. This is a salient point and one that needed to be addressed.

Regarding Psalm 110:1 the authors make the point that the magnitude of this verse has been underestimated. For one reason it is alluded to as many as 33 times in the N.T. Furthermore, it actually is a pivotal verse in the O.T., protecting the sanctity of the divine unipersonal God through the use of the word adonai. Instead of adoni (a word not used for the divine title of God), the second word 'Lord' (i.e. ...my Lord referring to the Messiah) is translated adonai in The Companion Bible. As a biblical student, my familiarity with the work of E.W. Bullinger plays an important role in my studies as many consider him a "giant" in the field. How he missed this critical translation of Ps. 110:1 is baffling. Errors in referencing have been found in his work but for one who had the utmost respect for accuracy in his research, I find it difficult that he would have missed such a critical translation in his Companion Bible. Perhaps Dr. Ginsburg's Massoretico-Critical Text of the Hebrew Bible from which Bullinger worked from failed to note the word adoni in relation to the Messiah? Was it deliberate or an oversight (Bullinger indicates in his work his acknowledgement of the Trinity)? The authors relinquish this mistranslation to a footnote. I felt the need for more discussion as to how and why this might have occurred since a number of commentaries are also inaccurate regarding the use/usage of this word.

Having been knowledgeable about God's foreknowledge regarding Christians (Rom. 8:29, Eph. 1:4) and Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:20, John 17:24) prior to reading this book, how does "before the foundation of the world" fit into the topic? Jesus Christ was foreknown before the foundation (katabole) = overthrow, a casting down of the world (kosmos) and so were the Christian believers. This is not said of Abraham (Gentile), nor is it said of the Israelites of the O.T. (God's adopted, first chosen in Jacob). Israel was chosen from (apo) the foundation of the world (kosmos) (e.g. Matt. 25:34), not from "before (pro) the foundation (overthrow)." This being the case, and an important point which escaped mention by the authors, how does such a truth fit in with the authors' handling of John 8:58? Jesus Christ was in God's foreknowledge "before the foundation of the world" (I Peter 1:20), therefore was he not "before" Abraham in this possible correct sense of the term? More discussion please.

Conclusion

Overall, the book is engaging and at times entertaining. The brief expose on the man Constantine kept me riveted and I found the discussion on the number one (1) amusing. The authors cover its meaning in detail (no less than 7 pages!). It is astounding that one (in the 21st Century) has to sit down and discuss what the number "one" really means and does it mean what one thinks it means. The authors belabor the obvious, almost to the point of absurdity, but this is precisely what the issue necessitates if a person is to dispel the nebulous cloud of mystery that surrounds the "one" God. What did the number one mean to the O.T. Hebrew? What did the number one mean to Jesus Christ whose lineage, according to the flesh, stems from the tribe of Judah? Are we interpreting it correctly today? It turns out that a Trinitarian's version of the number one (1) may differ from that of a non-believer's concept of the same term. Does the number "1" really mean 3-in-1, i.e. (Father, Son, Holy Spirit = One God), or 1-in-3, i.e. (One God = Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? Or does it mean singularly, absolutely, without division, one (1)? If given the opportunity, can a person get the same reply for the term "one" from an orthodox Jew, a Muslim, or an orthodox Christian? Once this hurdle is cleared one can proceed to the next step of agreement or disagreement of a term. This book examines only a few key words and phrases. There are a few hundred terms to examine if one is to cover the Trinitarian debate in its entirety. Another cited example is the word "Lord" or "lord" which can be quite emotionally wrenching in itself if one capitalizes the first letter or not. To the Trinitarian "Lord" is equivalent to God; to the non-Trinitarian it takes on a different shade of meaning. The authors take considerable time in explaining this term, beginning with the O.T. and tracing it through the N.T.

In regards to defining phrases, the authors handle the phrase "Son of God." Orthodox Trinitarianism states that "Son of God" is equivalent to (=) "God the Son." (e.g. Steven Tsoukalas). To the non-Trinitarian "Son of God" is left to mean just what it says, namely, "Son of God." The authors contend that you can't have it both ways. If "Son of God" has the same meaning as "God the Son," then one can turn any group of words around to say what he or she wants them to say. Communication comes to a screeching halt. The logic of the logos becomes illogical. Understanding and interpretation becomes meaningless. The genuine truth seeker is left in a hopeless quagmire of confusion.

This book, however, does not conclude on such a negative note. After all, God chose to communicate with his man through the spoken and written word. The authors are optimistic and quite positive in their approach to awaken those, whether clergy or laymen, who still have ears to hear and eyes to see. You are encouraged to examine what pair of glasses you are wearing, Hebraic or Hellenistic, when reading the scriptures. The authors state in so many words that mixing Hellenistic dung with the pure wheat of God's word and then preaching that it's "the bread of life" will leave the genuine truth seeking believer still hungering for better tasting cuisine. Perhaps, that's why this debate continues to rage. There are those who continue to veer from the mainstream of orthodoxy in search of clearer waters, uncontaminated by the din of theological pundits who have intentionally or inadvertently shackled the minds of their followers with a mind-boggling, inexplicable doctrine. A doctrine which, to this day, continues to be a blurry and hazy one at best for most Christians, still shrouded in a cloud of mystery.
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