You blur the lines by talking about “THE CHURCH” in equal status with the Bible. Sola Scriptura is dead; contemporary discussions on the Trinity are evidence of that.
Rodney goes on, in this post here, to counter again the Irish ‘This Week, I’m a Reformed’ Anglican, when he writes,
T.C. Robinson’s post on the Trinity has stirred quite the conversation. I don’t mind the debate at all; it is just my hope that Christians who are Trinitarian, as I profess recognize a few things: 1) non-trinitarians ARE our sisters and brothers in the faith; they just have a different understanding of the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit 2), The doctrine of the Trinity is a teaching in development and is a product of interpretation passed down by tradition, and that is why the early Church mothers and father proclaimed it as a MYSTERY not an additional revelation.
Although he goes on to say something about the Economic Trinity (cough, cough, Marcellus of Ancyra had it right)…
When you open up your Bible to the first few pages and you come to the table of contents, has it ever occurred to you that that list is not itself a part of Scripture? That list, otherwise known as the canon, cannot be found within any book of the Bible.
That’s an issue, isn’t it? That when we open the Scriptures, we find an index for the books included there in… who created that index? (I mean the original. If you want a real bible, go with Cambridge and let them print you index on nice India paper). Our Christian Old Testament canon differs from the Jewish canon(s). Further, our New Testament canon wasn’t really fully settled until some time after those books were written and had come to be used by a wide portion of the Church. For example – Athanasius, in a Festal Letter written in the middle of the Fourth Century, denotes the Church Canon, but leaves room for those other books; however, if you read his epistle on the Incarnation, you will find that he frequently quotes from the Book of Wisdom. Augustine does the same. And yet, for those of us who consider Scripture Alone (although, actually, primary, because there is no such thing as Scripture Alone) we have to answer the fact that Tradition shaped the Canon. We can look at note that the Spirit was working through that, but that is the answer that ‘the Catholics’ give about the Councils and Creeds and later developed doctrine.
There comes a heathen and says, “I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?” How shall we answer him? “Each of you” (says he) “asserts, ‘I speak the truth.'” No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. — St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])
We are continuing our series examining the Arian controversy from the eyes and pen of Marcellus of Ancyra. Note, I am not responding to his doctrine, or to that of the Arians, nor am I willing to back up either side with Scriptures, trying to let Marcellus speak for himself, as much as possible. I realize that not everyone like theology or Church history – (Imagine my surprise in school when I found out that 99% of my history classes hated history!) For some, this is boring, for others, it is a click through. For me, I am edified through discussions on theology, and can spend ours listening to lectures and then in turn discussing the finer points until the wee hours of the morning. As I said, I understand that I may be boring – but at least it makes you feel some compassion for my wife and children.
Whereas Marcellus referred to the preincarnate Christ as ‘Word’, the Arians preferred the title ‘Son’, applying it to both the Incarnation and the Preincarnation of the Logos of God. Marcellus consistently separated the Preincarnate with the Incarnation, using Word only for the Preincarnation while applying a wide range of titles to the Incarnation of the Word. This is because for Marcellus, God is a Monad, but during certain activities, such as Creation, God expands into a Dyad (although the word is never used in Marcellus’ writings), the Father and the Logos. At the Incarnation, when God spoke Himself, the Logos became the Son. Following this line of reasoning, a further expansion would create a Triad when Christ sent the Spirit. At the end of Time, when the Kingdom is handed over to the Father, when God is all in all, God will be a Monad.
There is a scholarly problem with this assessment of Marcellus’ dogma – there is a scarcity of evidence found in his writings. The above interpretation has been offered by the opponents to Marcellus, perhaps in hopes of making him look somewhat foolish. In reality, Marcellus holds fast to the Christian doctrine of monotheism, opposing the three Gods of the Arians, but lacks words – because he often refused to use nonbiblical words – to define and defend his doctrine. Although he uses, rarely, the term ‘triad’ he never fully applies it nor does he define what in the Godhead is a triad. For Marcellus, he had to admit that biblical terms, such as ‘Father’ and ‘Word’ had to have some meaning, but refused to go as far as the Arians in assigning to them personhood. Because of this ‘economic’ view of the Godhead, he felt that he was able to defend against the term ‘Sabellian’, the opposite end of the Arians.
1.The Rule of Faith
The Rule of Faith was essential in the early Church, before the Canon available for all to read. It helped to united the Church and set a standard for doctrine that even the laypeople could profess. The point of agreement for both the Arians and Marcellus is the Rule of Faith, but it was also the point of departure.
In fragment 65, Marcellus writes,
Now I will begin with the letter that he wrote and refute each point of false teaching. He wrote that he believes in the Father, the Almighty God, and in his Son, the only-begotten God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he says that he learned this type of piety from the Divine Scriptures. And when he says this, I totally accept what he says, for this manner of piety is common among all of us, that we believe in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But when, although not totally dismissing his divine power, through some artful speculation he makes the Father more human when calling him Father, and the Son likewise when calling him Son, at that point I can no longer praise such speculations without running into danger. For it now happens that the heresy concocted by them has spread through such speculation, which I clearly and readily intend to show from his words. For he said, The Father must truly be considered a father, and the Son a son, and the Holy Spirit likewise.
Marcellus considered any non-biblical application to the words ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ as heresy. Neither the Jews, the Apostles, or many of the early Christian writers considered the term ‘Father’ when applied to God in any human manner, nor the Son when applied to Christ. It was not until a few centuries after the Apostles that ‘Father’ (and thus ‘Son’) took on, as Marcellus says, ‘human’ connotations.
The three – Father, Son, and holy Spirit – where agreed to throughout Christendom, and had been so, as a rule of faith, since the time of the Apostles. This much, Marcellus could offer a demur to his opponents.
2.God, Father, and Word
For Marcellus, the referents ‘Father’ and ‘God’ was not always addressed to the same entity. We examine two fragments, 104:
Asterius names the power and authority that was given him “glory,” and not simply “glory” but “pre-universe glory.” He does not comprehend that the world had not yet been made nor was there anything else except God alone.
Indeed before the entire creation there was a certain quiet, one can reasonable assume (hos eikos), since the Logos was (still) in God. For if Asterius believes that God is the maker of all things, clearly he will also agree with us that God has always existed, that he never had a beginning of his existence, and that everything came into being from him and came into being from nothing. Indeed I do not suppose he would believe someone saying that some things are uncreated, but clearly he is persuaded that both heaven and earth and everything in heaven and earth came into being through God. If now this were his belief, necessarily he would confess with us that except for God there was nothing else. Therefore the Logos had his own kind of glory as one who was in the Father.
For Marcellus, God alone was in the beginning while the Logos was in dynamis. There was nothing besides the Father – no Son, no Spirit. Unlike earlier understandings of Logos, Marcellus never understood it to mean ‘Reason.’ For Marcellus, the Word was with the Father, ready to be spoken. He writes that there was silence because the ‘Word was with God.’ In fragment 121, Marcellus states, ‘Now I believe the divine Scriptures, that there is one God, and that His Word went forth.’ Thus, because of this statement and his writes, we understand that Marcellus sees only the Father (God) and His Word from the beginning, but only Son from the Incarnation.
Marcellus gave a very human perspective when he wrote,
Just as all things created by the Father came into being through the Logos, thus also the things spoken by the Father are made known through the Logos. And for this reason the most holy Moses in that place calls the Logos an angel, for he appeared [to Moses] for no other reason than to announce what was advantageous for the sons of Israel. He knew it was beneficial to believe that God is one. And therefore he said to him, “I am the one who is” (Exodus 3:14) in order to teach that there is no other God besides himself. This is easily understood, I believe, by those whose thinking is right, with the help of a small and humble illustration. For it is not possible for a manand his logos to be separated from him as some power or essence (hypostasis), for the Logos is one and the same with the man, and is not distinct in any way as something else, except in the effectual working of a matter.
Marcellus allows for a distinction between God and His Logos for an ‘effectual working of a matter’, or simply, for an economic activity. If we take Marcellus here, we understand that he believes that there is a distinction between the Father and His Word when the Father sends the Word, but when the activity is over, the separation is over. This feeds into Marcellus’ use of Word for the Preincarnate while Son is readily applied for the Incarnation.
For Marcellus, the Word in John 1.1 was nothing else but the Word, and refused to apply any title to it but Logos. To him, all titles of the flesh could only be applied the Incarnation, including Jesus, Son, and Bread. In a title is found in the Old Testament, then for Marcellus it was applied through prophecy. This countered the Arian’s claim of subordination because of Marcellus, subordination applied only to the Incarnate.
Marcellus resented the used the ‘begotten’ for the Word (although readily used it for the Incarnation), accusing his opponents of lying:
For when Asterius said, “The Logos was begotten before the ages/eons,” the statement itself proves he is lying, in that he not only misses the main point but also the literal meaning. For if the Proverb (8.23) says, “He established me before the age/eon,” how can he say, “He was begotten before the ages/eons”? For one saw he was “established before the age,” and the other that he was “begotten before the ages.”
3.The Holy Spirit
In the Rule of Faith, as it was later creeds, the terms ‘Spirit’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ was used, and to these terms, Marcellus agreed. In fragment 6, Marcellus writes that the Spirit testifies in Scripture, giving the Spirit the same power to awaken the minds, as Christ promised in John; however, for Marcellus, the Spirit, like the Word, proceeds from the Father but received its mission from the Son.
The Arians moved for three hypostaseis, or three ousiai, neither sharing the other’s nature; it was not until after Nicaea that the compromise was reached which allowed the East and the West to agree, that there were three substances in one essence. Marcellus, almost prophetically, wrote,
For it is impossible for three natures (hypostaseis) (if they do exist) to be united into a single being (monad), unless the three had previously originated from that single being (monad). For Saint Paul said that those things which did not belong to the unity of God are “gathered up” (Eph. 1.10) in the single being (monad). For the Logos and the Spirit alone belong to his unity.
This was not Marcellus’ view (note the impossibility that Marcellus sees in the view) but an hypothesis of what needed to be in order make the doctrine of the Arians work; however, this idea is well within the perimeters the eventual compromise. The one thing that Marcellus failed to mention is that if the Father, the Son, and the Spirit were of different hypostaseis, then the single essence was not the Father, meaning that the essence was the first principle, not the Father, as was long held by the Church.
Like the Arians, and as the Cappadocians, later admitted that they themselves lacked, Marcellus did not have a fully developed doctrine of the holy Spirit.
 It would be difficult to not understand Isaiah 55.11 has playing a key role here in Marcellus’ thought.
 Frag 42, The Logos was “in the beginning” (John 1.1), being nothing other than the Logos.” Frag. 48, Surely then, before he came down and was born of the virgin, he was only the Logos.
 Fragment 36, M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).
 Fragment 47, M. Vinzent, Markell von Ankyra: Die Fragmente (Leiden, 1997).
 Of the wise among us, some consider the Holy Spirit an influence, others a creature, others God [H]imself (oi de theon) and again others know not which way to decide, from reverence, as they say, for the Holy Scripture, which declares nothing exact in the case. For this reason they waver between worshipping and not worshipping the Holy Spirit, and strike a middle course which is in fact, however, a bad one (see also Schaff, fnn 5,6, p. 664).
Basil in 370, still carefully avoided calling the Holy [Spirit] God, though with the view of gaining the weak. Hilary of Poietiers (sic) believed that the Spirit, who searches the deep things of God, must be divine, but could find no Scripture passage in which he is called God, and thought that he must be content with the existence of the Holy [Spirit] which the Scripture teaches and the heart attests (De Trinitate, ii, 29; and xii, 55; cf. Schaff, ibid.).
This is an interesting magazine from an ‘Eastern’ point of view. I am posting this for discussion, perhaps, as we have a wide range of views concerning the Godhead which visit this blog. The first few centuries of doctrinal discussion centered around the Godhead – fighting attempts against Arians and Gnostics, as well as Trinitarians and Modalists. The great theologians made their mark not by evangelism, which was being done, but by lining the doctrines of the Church up. Recently, ancient heresy’s have returned – with Mormons bringing the Gnosticism back to life, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses resurrecting Arius in all his ill-glory – so again, the doctrine of the Godhead is being examined. Some Trinitarians examine it and find that for those that are steeped in sola scriptura, using extra-biblical words and Councils might not be exactly sola scriptura. Modalists examine them to figure out why everyone else is wrong. I examine the Godhead to establish myself. I found this article recently and thought that I would share:
There are those who say Christ is God (El Elyon) in the flesh, they say when the plan of salvation is complete, he (Christ) will return to being God (El Elyon) again. The scripture tells another story; “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1Co 15:28. Let’s break it down, when all things shall be subdued unto him (Christ), then shall the son (Christ) also himself be subject unto Him (YHWH) that put all things under him (Christ), that God (YHWH) may be all in all. There is no trinity, the bible says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” Deu 6:4. 1 Corinthian 15:24 may enlighten us in this matter. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” This couldn’t have been made any clearer. At the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, after all the wicked have been destroyed, Christ is going to put down all power and authority, and he himself shall become subjected to YHWH. There will be no longer a son acting in the seat of his father, only YHWH (El Elyon) the pre-eminence of all life.
For centuries, the people of God had fought an uphill battle attempting to defend the one God concept. Monotheism is defined as the belief in one deity. Amenhotep of Egypt believed the Great Monad was the sun god Ra. The mountain god El, in Hebrew traditions, was known as Elohim. Until our time, much of the Middle Eastern understanding was unavailable to us to evaluate some of the statements contained in Scripture about these other gods besides Yahweh that supposedly existed in other nations, Ashtoreth (1 Kings 11:33); Dagon (Judges 16:23-24; 1 Samuel 5:7); Chemosh (Judges 11:24; 1 Kings 11:33); Milchom (1 Kings 11:33); and Nisroch (2 Kings 19:37). Isaiah shows that there is no consort beside this God contrary to pagan documents from Elephantine, which asserted the existence of a “Mrs. Yahweh,” violating the First Commandment (Deuteronomy 5:7; Exodus 20:3). The Hebraic equivalent of the Elephantine concept is Sophia, or Lady Wisdom, who was to convey God’s wisdom to the prophets via the Holy Spirit, Racah Kadesh, who was also feminine in Hebraic terms.
The BAR had an article a few months ago about the royal consort of Yahweh, which was interesting to read. One thing we must remember is that all though Judaism is a monotheistic religion, people fell away from time to time, and introduced other gods which are not gods to Israel.
Many scholars are now united with the view that the plurality contained in the title Elohim is YHWH addressing His mighty counsel (See Genesis 3:22). The superlative use included the royal “we” has been mistakenly used by theologians to refer to the rest of God’s nature contained in a compound unity. This is based on Deuteronomy 6:4, which was the national credo of Israel—“Hear O Israel, Our Lord is one.” The terms echad and yahed are two ways of saying “one” in Hebrew. It is said that these two terms for a single designation include more than one part of a unit. However, close grammatical scrutiny will show that where evening and morning become the first day, yom, (Genesis 1:5) is part of a single designation. Rabbis have pointed out that the term yahed may refer to a thistle of grapes. The imagery still shows many grapes but one thistle as singular, and both terms come from a Hebraic root system that shows one unit as a common root in both terms. In Genesis 2:24, the concept of man and wife who share part of the total image of God are glued back together through marriage as one flesh to form a single entity, thus restoring the total image of God.
Let me just add the when Christ quoted the Shema in Mark, He used the Greek word for numerical one. It is also helpful to read the writings of the generation immediately following the Apostles – Ignatius and Polycarp – the generation before the philosophers, to determine the understand of Christology that they learned directly from the Apostles, by oral tradition.
As late as 1870, critical commentators such as Keil & Delitzsch (Vol 1, article, Genesis) and other Semitic scholars freely admitted that the term Elohim cannot be used to advance a Trinitarian formula. (See also Torah, A Modern Commentary by W. Gunther Plaut, article on Genesis, note on Elohim.) During this address, the Hebrew grammar changes from singular when Yahweh speaks to plural or superlative when the counsel answers Yahweh. Notice the phrase, “man has become as one of us.” With Yahweh’s divine command, all subjects are summoned. These mighty ones appear before the Mighty One who has complete authority over their activities. This explains how Elohim can refer to the Great God Himself or refer to His subjects who range from judges found in Psalm 82:6 who will die like men or the Bene Elohim, “sons of God,” found in Genesis 6:2 who were the descendents of Seth called the “mighty men of renown.” (See the Jamison Fawcett and Brown One Volume Old Testament Commentary, 1930 edition, article on Genesis 6.)
The Hebraic concept of messiahship is the annointed one who is lifted up. The Messiah even said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Myself” (Luke 3). The concept of one God who works through a Divine Messiah is found in both Testaments. Even the Apostle James declares, “If you believe in One God, you do well” (James 2:19; See 1 Timothy 2:5). “Though there are so-called gods, in the heavens or one earth – and there are plenty of gods and plenty of lords – yet for us there is only on God.” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6). In John 17:13, Jesus referred to the Father as the only true God and that He came in concert to represent all that the Father as a personification to His people (See Luke 1:30-36). No wonder Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God”, or kurios mou theos mou in Greek. (See Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:7-8). Dr. Scott Hahn explains the motif in John’s Gospel to be the Father teaching His Son His trade with phrases like “I work and my Father works” amplifying this fact, for the time was coming when no man could work. The Father in Psalm 118 is progressively revealing the High Priest in John 14-16 to the people. So God and Christ are in complete union.
Dr. James E. Talmage explains: “The revised version gives for John 10:30: ‘I and the Father are one’ instead of ‘I and my Father are one.’ By “the Father.” the Jews rightly understood the Eternal Father, God. In the original Greek “one” appears in the neuter gender, and therefore expresses oneness in attributes, power, or purpose, and not a oneness of personality which would have required the masculine form” (Jesus the Christ, p. 465). In the high priestly prayer of Jesus, John uses the word “comforter,” that one; parakletos (J. Green, A Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament), which is expressed in English in a masculine form even though the Greek text uses masculine verbal trains as a grammatical tool to establish neuter activity from a masculine being who is, in this case, God. The same dynamic occurs when the word “spirit” (pneuma), which is neuter and used with masculine pronouns to illustrate the Spirit of the Father (Romans 8:16). The masculine use of these terms is not a reference to the Spirit’s personality (See Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel B. Wallace, p. 332, note on relative pronouns). Jesus was sired by the Holy Spirit through the Virgin Mary. Thus, the nature of Christ was that of the New Adam for He would rewrite history and not fall as the first Adam did, but He was completely sinless in all He did and all He was (Romans 5:12-21). “It was by one’s man offense that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who received the fullness of grace and the gift of saving justice, through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). He represented the perfect will of the Father.
How can the Logos be any different from the Speaker?
This Divine-Man concept was constantly debated among the rabbis who wondered if the Messiah would be Daniel’s Man of Daniel 7:6-7 or whether the Greek concepts of the savior gods, theioiandres (divine men), would describe deity’s activity in His Messiah (Esther 4:17 Septuagint). According to many New Testament scholars, the concept of divine men as saviors did influence the writers of the Gospels about this Messianic figure of Daniel. The vertical apocalyptic parallelism of Daniel 6:6-7 is believed by many commentators to show that there are at least two persons of deity mentioned. However, with close examination, these timeless poetic prophecies do not tell us when the appearing of the Great Messiah will become evident. The Hebraic concept of deity was God, Savior and Lord. This theme is amplified in Hebrews 1:8 and Titus 2:13. Notice at the appearing of Jesus, it is accompanied with the Father’s glory, doxa. Some commentators use 1 Timothy 3:16 to prove an incarnation but that term in not in the majority of manuscripts. This passage is a hymn or liturgical profession of faith (New Jerusalem Bible, p. 1961, note 3e), which shows that Christ “appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed in the world, was taken up in glory (NIV). So this verse is a summary of the Gospel message.
1st Timothy 3.16 is plainly Incarnational, with or without the textual variant…it’s a matter of grammar. The He in 1st Timothy 3.16 (Critical Text) can refer to God from the previous few verses.
Logos Theology and the Understanding of Christian Expositors
From the post-exilic period (586 BCE) to the writing of the New Testament, many theological shifts took place during the dispersion of Judah into Babylon as well as the exiles who found their way to Egypt during Jeremiah’s ministry. And with the cultures overlapping one another, terms like wisdom and logos had international repercussions. The ancients had numerous definitions of this term. The Christian church debates three of them.
I am not sure as to the theological shifts, as any shifts from the Law would create a different religion. Christianity was not a theological shift. Logos and Sophia, the two hands of God, came by the Greek as the Hebrew died. Of course, they carry with the philosophical baggage of a few centuries of Greek use.
The first is that John 1:1, a Stoic hymn where Jesus replaces the god Zeus, in the Johannine prologue (See Interpreter’s One Volume Bible Commentary on the Gospel of John, p. 710).
Also, check out the Anchor Bible Dictionary which draws some comparisons between Sirach, Wisdom, and Proverbs and John’s prologue (Logos replaces Sophia).
Second, due to the Greek concept of the pre-existence of all things, the logos would have pre-existed eternally in the bosom of God’s internal image. Then, after His birth, He would have been the express image of God (The One Volume Bible Commentary, J. R. Dummelow, p. civ).
Yeah, I can buy that.
And finally, the teaching of Athanasius would advocate the personal pre-existent Logos as fully God in whom heaven and earth could not be contained. This tradition would prevail in the West and overcome the position of Origen, whom the Eastern Fathers would base their logos concept. The Son and the Spirit are not independent centers of divine being but unfoldings of the eternal spirit in an emerging purpose. Tertullian would expand this Stoic philosophy by calling the Great Triad a trinitos. The Capadocian Fathers of the East would follow this tradition with their interpretations of John’s Gospel (pp. 258-300, Essays on the Trinity and the Incarnation, A.E.J. Rawlinson, ed.).
He skips a great deal from Zeus to Athanasius, especially Justin and his fleshing out of the Logos not to mention Irenaeus and Athenagoras with their seemingly emantaionist, or economic, approach to the Godhead. I am not totally convinced that Logos had any real (or deep) theological meaning for the Apostle John, but if it did, it would have been the same use as found in Wisdom 18.
But how do we as modern-day Christians evaluate this data when so many of these concepts have been so theologized? It is difficult to decipher the original meaning. Nineteenth-century expositor Adam Clarke and modern expositors F. F. Bruce and Raymond Brown maintain that the pre-existent Son logos was of a later Christological development (Jesus, God and Man, pp. 15-18, see also, The Birth of the Messiah, p. 432) and Professor James D. G. Dunn, (Christology in the Making, p. 150, 163-176). Dr. R. E. Rubenstein in his famous work, When Jesus Became God, asserts that the logos became fully God after the theological wars took place between the Arians with their Low Christology and the Trinitarians, with their High Christology and, caught in the middle, where the Binitarians, who were considered Semi-Arians. The Binitarians tried to compromise between both extremes and argued for two persons in the one God concept and the Holy Spirit remained a neuter force, though it was seen as a feminine force in Eastern Church traditions (See The Holy Spirit in Eastern Christian Traditions by Dr. Stanley Burgess, Odes of Solomon, pp. 172-182).
The Gospel of John tends to follow the tradition that Jesus’ origin was from heaven above to show His Sonship (John 3:13). Therefore, as critical commentators have pointed out, the pre-existence of the Son of God may have been in the Father’s bosom or mind as J. R. Dummelow contends. But one might ask, “Weren’t all things created by Jesus?” The instrumental case used here has been problematic for scholars for some time. Bart Ehrman has show evidence to suggest a Christological tampering with the text in the early Latin period may have taken place and as an alternate reading, this may be rendered, “all things were created because of Jesus” due to the fact that some of our translations use the term “by and for” Him creating an awkward tense structure that is very difficult to reconcile. It is due to this problem that some scholars feel that the term “by Christ” was a later redaction (The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture by Bart Ehrman, note on Colossians 1:16). Some might exclaim, “Didn’t Jesus say that He was returning to the Father and does that prove that He was there in eternity past?” The Greek grammar in John’s Gospel doesn’t literally translate “return” as often as it should be rendered “go to the Father” (See John 16:28; Zondervan Greek Interlinear, pp. 324-336). These verses, according to Alford, show us that the origin of Jesus in the form of logos was with His Father (Alford’s Greek Testament, An Exegetical and Critical Commentary, Henry Alford, note on John 16:28).
I would not quote Bart Ehrman as a textual critic…
In later Johanine Christology, specially in 1 John 4:2, the New Jerusalem Bible correctly renders the verse, “This is the proof of the spirit of God: any spirit which acknowledges Jesus Christ, come in human nature, is from God . . . “ (See Goodspeed). Notice “come in human nature” rather than “to come into eis”; this would have been the term used in the Greek text had Christ pre-existed and His previous nature been brought into His bodily existence.
The issue is solved when you realize that the Logos pre-existed, but the Son of God did not. Only in the human nature did the Logos become the Son of God.
The prologue of the Gospel starts with en arche, or “in the beginning,” when the Great Architect uttered His divine speech and this logos was God. Adam Clarke asks, How can a person be separated from his own speech? Others try to maintain John’s use of the nomitive predicate ho theos, “God” and the word pros for “with God”, pros ton theon, “with the God” as a separate entity, therefore, the logos is an eternal entity and not just a speech or thought. Dr. Gene Scott and Wescott and Hort have argued that the term pros should be rendered “face to face with God” and should be used here to prove two personages, but many modern exegetes have not landed on this side of the issue. Some commentators espouse the concept of the direct object used in conjunction with the definite article proves the logos was a separate and equal personification of the God and was with God. However, one still has the use of God expressing Himself through His divine speech as one person with or without the use of the definite article. Each side uses the passages in other texts to back up their theological position.
We should all love and accept our Christian brethren regardless of what their Godhead theology dictates as long as they believe that deity was truly in Jesus in some form. Our theology in human terms cannot begin to capsulate or define the fullness of God’s revelation. Let us praise and thank God for He is to magnificent to put into human terms, but may the Church of God continue to struggle to worship our biblical God by using biblical theology to obtain biblical results. And by the name of His dear Son, may we all grow in the Grace and Knowledge of His Great Salvation.
I can picture a whole bunch of people, on each and every side of the issue, rolling in their graves. The nature of the Godhead was the central focus of the doctrinal controversies in the first few centuries after Christ.