Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, December 04, 2006

Socinian Sychophants

A little bit ago - I reckon its been since October now - I had posted a couple of blog articles highlighting an apostate named Dan Mages. Mr. Dan, with his eyes wide open and in a full gallop, has done a complete swan dive into anti-Trinitarian, Socinian, gnostic paganism. Amazingly, he calls his departure "free thinking" and hungering for truth. I have attempted to frame it according to scripture: apostasy.

In my first post, I noted the impotency of Dan's god to preserve his (or her) truth in the hearts of his (or her) people. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ Himself promised to build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.

One of the important aspects of building His church is insuring that hell's gates will be unable to prevent it from breaking forth into the world and that is accomplished by making sure the people who comprise the Church of God stay true to sound doctrine once and for all delivered to the saints. The testimony of Church History is a triumphal recognition and affirmation of the core, foundational Christian doctrines that define the Faith against the encroachment of heresy.

Two significant Christian doctrines God has seen fit to secure in the hearts of His redeemed through the written revelation of Scripture is the Triune nature of God and the full Deity of Jesus Christ. Both of these doctrines Dan denies outright, claiming instead that the early Christians must had been misguided by conspiracies and elitist power struggles within the established leadership. In a sense, Dan has a Da Vinci Code view of Church history. When attempts by freethinking individuals like Arius and Michael Servetus were made to steer the Church back to the truth, those attempts were met by political and bigoted opposition, and in the case of Servetus, that mean ole' Calvin had him roasted like a Kenny Roger's chicken. I merely pointed out that such a viewpoint demonstrates a weak, beggarly god who is unworthy of any worship from men. If this god cannot make him (or her) self known in the hearts of the devoted fan base, this god lacks what it takes to be "deity."

Dan was not pleased with my comments and responded with a lengthy comment of his own in the combox of that post. I then responded to his criticisms with another post. Since that article, a couple of supporters have risen to Dan's defense and have taken me to task for daring to call a quacking duck a duck and a black spade a black spade. Dan has even noted my posts on his site under the critics section. His main contention is that I am bold enough to use biblical terminology and I call people nasty names using such words like apostasy and heresy.

With that in mind, allow me then to note the complaints of a couple of Dan's supporters:

From Adam51

You are obviously not interested in actually debating and discussing this issue. Your mind is made up and you are only concerned with defending the orthodox position rather than researching the arguments on the other side and understanding why Dan believes what he believes. I would love to see some real discussion over real Biblical texts. Fred, why don't you lay out a couple sound biblical arguments for the Trinity and force Dan to respond to those arguments? Perhaps Dan could do the same. The rest of us can observe, offer insights where helpful, and moderate the discussion to make sure neither side slides into cheap shots, logical fallacies, or diversions. Keeping this about the NT texts would be great, and I and many others would love to see this really focus on the nuts and bolts of the issue.

A handful of things here...

First of all, the commenter is quite right that I am not interested in debating the issue. I do not believe the doctrines of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ are, in Bible Answer Man cliche,"issues we can debate vigorously, but need not divide over" I could care less about a phony feeling of fraternity where we're suppose to show each other mutual, intellectual respect and after a couple of hours of stimulating discussion by a warm fire while consuming fine brandy, perhaps come to a consensus on points of individual agreement. No. I am interested in calling Dan (and his supporters here) to repentance from Unitarian error and returning to the true Faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Moreover, I recognize that these doctrines have already been argued at length by greater men than me several centuries ago. If their arguments are not going to convince Dan, mine won't either. Additionally, it would be pointless to use the NT texts as a reference point, because Dan himself has admitted that the biblical texts are unreliable, fallible and prone to error. I might as well be debating Shelby Spong or Bart Erhman. What is the point anyway in defending a document you believe is error ridden to begin with?

Steve writes,

I sense, perhaps, an unnecessarily hostile view toward ‘Free Thinking’ that could be ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ if you will. Freedoms to think and of conscience, as opposed to the contrary, are jewels all of us ought to treasure immensely and should not be taken for granted or derided.

OK, so I should value the freedom of thinking and conscience. Why does that automatically equate becoming a Unitarian who despises historic Christian doctrine?


Now certainly, I would agree with you, there is absolutely no virtue in a love for ambiguity and an a priori rejection of anything traditional.

You mean like rejecting the infallibility and the authority of the biblical text? There's no virtue in that, right?

Moving on...

That is childish, intellectually irresponsible, and has nothing to do with Truth or even Thought itself. So for what it’s worth, perhaps we can give Free Thought a higher and more virtuous place among the labels, as without it, again I have to reiterate, no intellectual progress can ever be made, and every one of us would still be attending Mass and buying indulgences were it not for it.

Umm... Luther's rejection of Roman Catholic heresy was based upon the reading of the biblical text. A blessing he had not had previously before being a monk and that was kept from the people at large. It wasn't like he dreamed this stuff up out of his head. He had a standard (an infallible and authoritative standard) by which he judged the credibility of the Mass and indulgences. It is not like Dan was taught Trinitarianism and Christ's Deity all his life without a reference point in God's Word and then one day he received his first copy of the scriptures and discovered he had been lied to all his life.

Continuing still...

Moreover, Dan still retains many traditional convictions -- a clear indicator that he does not reject Tradition just for being traditional.

Really? What traditions would that be? Jesus was a male? He lived in Israel?


He has never been one to ignore an objection. He has never once skirted an issue or difficult text, and I’ve seen him in countless dialogues answering question after question, objection after objection, to the best of his ability. He is constantly studying and reading both sides of any issue, so he is not oblivious to, nor ignorant of the orthodox answers to his objections. So perhaps he has not done a perfect job in highlighting those answers, responding to them, and publishing. Maybe that can be one of his next projects – I will suggest it to him. In fact, if you could list for us the top orthodox answers to his objections you would like to see him respond to, that would be beneficial.

I find this hard to believe. I don't believe Dan, as well as our Dan Fan commenter here, has honestly wrestled with the exegisis supporting the Trinity, let alone the Deity of Christ; and I am want to believe either one of them have a handle on the pertinent historical situations from which these doctrines were affirmed in the classic creeds. My goodness. It is not like these guys are devoid of any polemical and apologetic writing on the subject. Am I to believe they have interacted with James White, Robert Morey, Robert Reymond, Edward Dalcour, Thomas Torrance, Peter Toon, just to name a few modern writers who have thick, published books on the subject? Before I start suggesting chapter and verse to Dan, it may do him well to interact with these other men first.

Going on...

Another point that we might need to fine-tune is your understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit and the preservation of doctrine. To repeat, Fred, you cannot assume that the doctrines you believe are the very doctrines God needs to preserve in order for him to qualify as God. Moreover, you cannot assume that what you affirm as essential is what the Spirit of God finds essential to preserve. It is arbitrary to say God is still God even though he let the Church fumble on at least 95 points, but should he let the Church slide into error concerning his Son’s and His exact ontology, he cannot be God and John 14:26 is a lie. Why must we draw that conclusion?

Perhaps our commenter doesn't believe the ability of God to reveal himself authoritatively in the hearts of his people is proof of His Godhood. I personally do, especially when He has promised to lead His people in all truth. "All truth" would pertain to how we understand God's nature and character. Additionally, a correct understanding of the nature of God and the person and work of Jesus Christ does not fall into the same category of inter-mural disagreement as say for example, whether Saul really saw Samuel or it was a demon impersonating Samuel, or whether Revelation 20 should be understood in a preterist or historist perspective, or whether the sign gifts have ceased or not.


And quoting 1 John 2:19, divorced of its context makes the verse meaningless as anyone can use it against anyone and it doesn’t prove a thing. The same verse can be applied toward yourself. Any church, pastor, priest, or teacher who disagrees with you can quote this and say, “See, Fred, never really was one of us” and what does that prove? Nothing, until, they first supply a contextually sound interpretation of the verse and then check to see if it applies. However, the verse has to do with people leaving for the ‘love of the world’ along with warnings to watch out for the liar who is the person that ‘denies that Jesus is the Christ.’ Contextually, then, this verse doesn’t apply to Dan or yourself.

A couple of things to note. First off, it would had been helpful for our commenter to provide the correct understanding of the text rather than blandly stating I am off base with my Bible study. Second, 1 John 2:19 is extremely relevant to Dan's situation, because John's epistle is specifically addressing what defines the essentials of core, fundamental Christianity and those doctrines pertinent for a professed believer to affirm in order to be identified as a believer. In the historical context, if we wish to speak to context, John was addressing a Gnostic heresy that denied some foundational truths about the Person of Jesus, specifically, whether he was really flesh. In a manner of speaking, it is opposite what Dan denies, i.e. Christ's deity, but it makes the same radical mistake of rejecting essential Christian doctrine. John is clear that those individual persuaded by these Gnostic heretics and follow gleefully after them as if now they obtained true free thinking enlightenment from their teaching were not genuinely Christian to begin with, because if they had been, they would had continued steadfast in the Faith. Returning to the world is John's way of saying they were exposed as never been pulled out of the world.

Moving along...

It is that you are certain the Bible is crystal clear about Jesus’ Deity and the Triune nature of God ... This conviction that one’s dogmas are so clearly taught in sacred scripture precludes even the possibility of someone sincerely missing them or honestly disagreeing. Therefore, since they are so indisputably plain, the defector must of necessity be a wolf, a deceiver, in love with error, enamored with dissention, and a willful and deliberate apostate.

I am presupposing a number of things. That the sacred scriptures are infallible and inerrant, they reflect clearly the mind of God, and the Holy Spirit illumines the mind of those who believe them, and that the believer is properly handling the scriptures according to grammatical-historical principles of exegesis. Because of these factors, the doctrine of the Trinity and Christ's Deity is indisputably plain, thus, the defector mentioned in the illustration falls into one or more of those categories listed by our commenter.


And so it is at this very point that we are certain you are not correct; it is how we know you are not being honest with the data. For what we do know is that we are honest, we are sincere, and that we want only to believe true things about Jesus and about God, and to come to the most accurate interpretation of the Biblical Text.

If you don't believe the text is infallible, how can you come to any accurate interpretation of it?


You can call it baloney, you can resort to hearsay, and you can deny it for as long as you care to, but we know ourselves and so none of it will change the facts. The facts of our own consciences, our own hearts, our own life experiences, our own honest pleadings to God and searching of the Bible – it is this that we cannot deny, and as we cannot deny that, we know that you are not telling the truth when you say we willfully choose error.

I am guessing our commenter is forgetting all of those passages that talk about the heart being deceitful above all things and "there's a way that seems right to a man" and other such passages. All individuals from across the religious spectrum appeal to life experience, honest pleadings with God, and personal consciences touched in some spiritual way to affirm what they believe is true, but they are just as sincerely deluded and wrong as our Socinian here. Am I to trust the Mormon burning bosom as an indicator of truth? The Muslim's devotion to keep all five pillars of Islam? The Bible is our only true, authoritative guide to reveal to us how we are to worship God rightly. No amount of weepy, sentimental pleading on the part of a person soaked in theological error will make them right.


Once again, don’t let an Institution dictate to you what is ‘undeniably clear,’ when reality and history is telling you that it is not. If you start out as axiomatic the undeniable clarity of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, you will be unable to account for people like Servetus, Arius, Dan, Myself, the many scholars, and the millions of genuine people who are non-Trinitarian, except to call them insincere, dishonest, error-loving pagans.

Apostates are good about raising the us and them distinction. The us is pure in thought as a Christmas morning snow. The them, often defined as the "institution," are corrupt and in the business of dictating this and that to the unwashed masses. But the institution is not monolithic with all power. Again, the anti-Trinitarian has to explain the presences of Trinitarian apologists nearly 150-200 years before any alleged institution existed to start bossing all of us at to what is "undeniably clear."

At any rate, how do I account for folks like Servetus, a pantheistic new-age astrologer who was emotionally unstable? What about Arius, who held to a gnostic understanding of a created being? Their doctrine and character exposed them for the apostates they are. At this point Dan has walked away from the true Church under the pretense that he is hungering for truth. That simply means the millions of genuine people who are non-Trinitarian are not Christian. Neither do they hold to the Bible as revelation.

Going on...

Furthermore, how would one account for the various quarrels or ‘heresies’ (like Modalism) that have arisen? If it so clear, why so many misunderstandings? It makes little sense and it is very unconvincing to say all these teachers and people deny the obvious and choose error. So as this is not the case, you are left with another option. Perhaps they are deceived by the Devil and other false teachers. But this is entirely untenable for how could anyone trick someone into ‘denying’ the ‘undeniable?’

The Bible tells us plainly how we are to account for various quarrels and heresies that have arisen in the Church over the years: untaught and unstable people twist the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). There is nothing wrong with the Bible; there is plenty wrong with those individuals who seek their self interests with the scripture. Of course it is quite easy to turn this objection around on the apostate. If the Bible is so unclear about the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, why do the bulk of orthodox, Bible believing Christians see it so clearly taught? I see the Trinity revealed through out the entire scope of scripture from the OT to the NT.


The Bible is not perfectly clear about the deity of Jesus or the Trinity, there is room for differences here, and there have been sincere, honest men and women who are arriving at diverse conclusions...And if it turns out that the Trinity is the true teaching of scripture, be patient with the ‘weaker brethren’ we will eventually get there if it’s the truth, you just cannot blame a Protestant for not trusting the Catholic Church. Let’s examine all her merchandise together, for she has sold us disgraceful imitations before.

For our apostate friends, their disagreement hinges on the clarity, accuracy and infallibility of the Word of God as an historical and doctrinal record that is revealed by the Lord and can transcend all cultures, societies and even the centuries and still speak plainly to God's people. Dan denies this outright. I can only image his sychophantic pal also denies this. Moreover, to strike this fundamental denial of who God is as some "weaker brother" thing, is plainly dishonest. Dan is not a new convert to the faith. He attended a world-class Bible college, and more than likely imbibe these false doctrines while still attending school there, which would mean he had to lie to his instructors as to his true convictions so as to not be dismissed and throw away what education he had obtained up to that point.

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Blogger Pickle Boy said...

Speaking of attacks on Trinitarian doctines, I was "googling" for some articles dealing with ancient mss and the correct reading of 1 Timothy 3:16 ("God was manifest in the flesh..." vs. "who/which was manifest in the flesh"). My curiousity about this verse was reawakened by a recent blog entry by James White:
(scroll down to the 10/31 entry, "I just could not resist"

King James Onlies of course insist that modern versions are deliberately attempting to strip Christ of his deity by "removing" God from this verse, They cite various mss. and 19th century textual scholars (Burgon, Scrivener etc). But I digress...

What is most relevant to your blog entry is this website which I stumbled upon in my search:

It seems like a thorough and comprehensive attempt to dismantle every argument used in favor of Trinitarian doctrine. I found it quite disturbing, mostly because for most Tom, Dick and Harry's out there, this stuff could be quite convincing. It certainly rattled my cage!

1:02 PM, December 04, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

This stuff is not unique. The issue is if they have credible research that can withstand serious scrutiny. I would be curious if this individual has interacted with any real manner with Robert Morey and James White, for example.

Generally, there "extensive" website looks formidable, but under closer examination,it is all show with no substance.


1:30 PM, December 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a Socinian Sycophant for you.

12:20 AM, December 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Fred,
Thanks for replying somewhat to my post. I am a friend of Dan's but I do not necessarily agree with him on Unitarianism. However, I do think the issue is much more complicated than many Trinitarians are willing to admit. Dan has investigated and taken serious these complications and come to a anti-trinitarian position. I think if you want to have an effective conversation about his issue with Dan or anyone else who is Unitarian, you will need to take these complicated issues serious and offer sound and critical responses to them. All you are doing now is ranting about Dan as a heretic and about how blind he is. But this is not helpful for people really struggling with this issue. For someone who is searching for answers you will come acrossed as closed minded and unwilling to look at the difficulties of your own position. I believe this does more harm than good. I challenge you to really address the issues at stake here. Argue over specific passages of scripture, using sound exegesis in doing so. Look at historical questions regarding the development of the Trinity and primarily the development of Christology in the church. If you don't want to do this that is fine but I think it may be a fruitful endeavor and may push the conversation forward.

10:09 PM, December 05, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...


You speak as though something I may say will convince Dan to give up his error and return to orthodoxy. Like I stated in my article, what could I personally state about the exegesis of the Trinity that Dan has not already seen and rejected? It is not like I have some special Trinitarian passages that will somehow silence all Unitarians once and for all.

There are many orthodox, Bible believing apologists who are way more eloquent on this subject than me. Has Dan studied their stuff? Why did he reject it? I a assuming he has also read the pertinent historical works surrounding those Christological controversies? You seem to suggest he has, but nothing in his written articles or from what I have heard from any of his interviews suggests he has. He is parroting Unitarian propaganda that he agrees with and erroneously thinks vindicates his beliefs.

Additionally, do you not think it is important how we understand the authority of the Bible? Dan has admitted on the Way of the Master interview, as well as to a friend of mine who has emailed him privately, that he does not think the Bible is infallible and inerrant, and most certainly that it is not clear on matters of doctrinal precision. Seeing that he holds the emergent church ideas of mystery and uncertainty in high regards, I can easily see how he could be swayed away from the truth.

You may think it is a fruitful endeavor to discuss these things, but when we are starting on opposite pages with our presuppositions, it is going to be a frustrating conversation.


4:27 AM, December 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Fred.

A few follow up comments.

I guess convincing Dan of a Trinitarian view is not my main objective in pushing for a more thorough and critical discussion. Maybe Dan could be convinced and maybe he could not. I am more concerned with other people who are seeking to understand the issue. Addressing the complicated questions/biblical passages surrounding the issues of the trinity and Christology would be helpful for others who are confused about them. It would be more helpful than simply passing the other side off as foolish heretics, I believe.

Regarding the other "apologists" who defend the Trinitarian position, I am afraid that most of them are also not dealing with the real complicated issues regarding the Trinity. I have also listened to Dan's debates and the devastatingly poor argumentation by the other side and lack of knowlege regarding extremely relevant issues is shocking.

Regarding Dan's view of scripture, I think you are off a bit. Dan is likely not an "inerrantist" but my guess is that he would call himself an "infalliblist." These words may sound the same, but they represent to different perspectives. Are you familiar with the difference? The first claims that there are no errors of any kind in the Bible, a position I believe you hold to. The second believes that there are no errors in the text concerning faith and the practice of faith, but allows for errors of history, geography, etc (except where those issues are related to issues of faith, i.e., the resurrection). I believe, but am not certain, that Dan is of the latter opinion. The point is he does value the authority of scripture. It was his study of the NT that led him to the idea of Unitarianism. If he believes the bible does not teach the trinity, then counter arguments that demonstrate that it does could be very helpful. To say that Dan doesn't care about what the Bible says or its authority I believe is incorrect, especially considering it was his study of the Bible that led him to his conclusions on the Trinity.

By the way, I appreciate the dialogue over the issue. Thanks for taking the time for it.


7:05 AM, December 06, 2006  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

I find it sad that I keep running into this attitude with a lot of people claiming to be Christians -

Proverbs 18:2 2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding
but delights in airing his own opinions.

Speaking about Christianity isn't comparable to being in ancient Athens as a philospher. It seems so many have the attitude that were all to huddle in a group and speak about the Bible from the perspective of our opinion. That is backwards according to the Bible. We are not to lean to our own understanding or trust in ourself. We are to conform ourself to what the Bible clearely reveals to us repetitively. That is learning to think Biblically.

1:48 PM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what about when people differ over how to read the Bible, which is what we have going on in this Trinitarian debate. This is not a debate over whether the Bible is correct or not, but it is a debate over what the text really teaches and what it does not teach. I think the biggest problem is not people “airing their own opinions” but it is people who have a faulty method of reading and interpreting the text. Too much interpretation among both laity and pastors is completely subjective. It frequently violates the intended message of the author as well as the historical, social, and literary contexts of the text. This whole attitude of “just read the Bible and believe what it says” is ignoring the very complicated process of reading a book that was written 2000 years ago. I certainly think this 2000 year old text is the word of God and speaks God’s message/truth to his church today, but if we read it without recognizing that it was written 2000 years ago we run the risk of misinterpretation and thusly the risk of abusing the very word of God we hold dear. This is an offense that all of God’s people should take very seriously.

6:08 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Addressing the complicated questions/biblical passages surrounding the issues of the trinity and Christology would be helpful for others who are confused about them.

Complicated questions and passages? It seems pretty clear to me. I believe the complication is contrived by those who refuse to submit to the authority of scripture.

Regarding the other "apologists" who defend the Trinitarian position, I am afraid that most of them are also not dealing with the real complicated issues regarding the Trinity.

You're telling me Dan's read all of the apologetic literature? Morey and White for example? They did a great job of dealing with alleged complicated issues. It appears to me Dan has gravitated toward some individuals he happened to like because he agreed with them, Tony Buzzard for example.

I have also listened to Dan's debates and the devastatingly poor argumentation by the other side and lack of knowlege regarding extremely relevant issues is shocking.

And who are these individuals Dan devastated? I find it hard to believe Dan has truly interacted with someone who knows their stuff about this issue.

Regarding Dan's view of scripture, I think you are off a bit. Dan is likely not an "inerrantist" but my guess is that he would call himself an "infalliblist." These words may sound the same, but they represent to different perspectives. Are you familiar with the difference?

The differences are phony, contrived by individuals who wish to leave plenty of wiggle room in matters of authority. It is a false, contradictory dichotomy to suggest the Bible is infallible on the one hand so a person can be an "infalliblist" as you describe him, yet on the other it is errant. The two have to be one in the same. Infallibility and inerrancy are bound to God's character. The scriptures are infallible because God revealed them, and because God is truthful, they will be inerrant, because they reflect that truthfulness.

The second believes that there are no errors in the text concerning faith and the practice of faith, but allows for errors of history, geography, etc (except where those issues are related to issues of faith, i.e., the resurrection).

This is a key example of the problems you have with trying to separate infallibility from inerrancy. If the Bible could be in error about history and other objective matters, how then do we KNOW it is correct about the resurrection, an event that is historical? Your position refutes itself.

And one comment you made to Thomas:

I certainly think this 2000 year old text is the word of God and speaks God’s message/truth to his church today, but if we read it without recognizing that it was written 2000 years ago we run the risk of misinterpretation and thusly the risk of abusing the very word of God we hold dear.

I certainly know the Bible was written 2000 years ago and recognize it as being 2000 years old, yet there is no complication with interpreting it as you seem to think. I believe this so-called complication is contrived by those like Dan and yourself who have a problem with objective authority and what the Church as traditionally taught.
Seeing how Dan likes the emergent church ideas, I can see how he would like this position about the Bible.


10:39 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger HungerTruth said...

Hey Fred,

Just wanted to drop in again and make a few comments. Yes, technically, a person who molests a child once is a person who has molested a child, not a molester, although in common lingo, talking in this manner is acceptable. This is the point I’m establishing. Telling the truth here and there does not make anyone an honest person or a truth-teller, but a person who tells the truth here and there. Do you see my point?

Fred, you ask why you should worship and serve an impotent God? The answer is that you shouldn’t. Conversely, though, why should humans worship a God who predestines car accidents, rape, genocide, cancer, AIDS, crusades, inquisitions, and everything else that ever has or ever will happen according to the Westminster catechism which places everything on God’s eternal decree? If anyone would honor such a being, it seems nothing more than power worship.

I would contend that God can control everything, but has chosen not to. This is not impotent, but merely displays that God can be sovereign over his own sovereignty. Furthermore, I would argue that anyone who worships and honors a God who tortures people in flames for all eternity without end are immoral. Typically the debates revolve around whether or not this is true. At the end of the day, true or not, we all have a choice to make, who we will and will not honor. All who honor devilish God’s are immoral.

No need to throw me into the bag with all apostates and lump me in with someone who knocks all traditionalists, for unless I do this, try to refrain from making such generalizations. I know you are more than able to stick with the facts.

Look, in so far as you keep calling those who you disagree with apostates, you will never change your mind, in fact you can’t, you will psychologically never believe the same thing as an apostate. What is the point of questioning the tradition if you are not open to the possibility of being in error? You have the truth, and everyone else is in error, so then chuck questioning to the side. Furthermore, why not question everything? Are some things off limits? If the thing we are questioning is true, we have nothing to fear.

I am utterly amazed that you are not able to see that people can come to the same text, use the same tools, and come to different conclusions. Have you stepped inside a seminary library lately? There have been disputes about the nature of the Messiah and his relationship to God for millennia. Even John MacArthur changed his view regarding whether or not Jesus was God’s eternal son. If he can change his view concerning the Godhead, so can you, so can I, and so can any of us.

You say John MacArthur has merely refined his theology, implying that there is not real change here, as if he just made less sophisticated perspectives fine-tuned. Please, what he once believed was true, he now believes is false. The eternal sonship issue is big, as you know, he almost lost his credentialing because of it. The important point here is that he changed. It is only a matter of degree. Once you allow for change, we cannot control the extent that we will change. There is peace in knowing that our views of things don’t change reality. I’ve acknowledged that my view of God and Christ is based on an interpretation of an ancient text. The question is, will you?

It seems like your view of God is such that if God wanted you to kill your parents, you would. Is this true? There seems to be this authority thing that you keep going back to. It does not seem to matter what it is that God or the Bible says, you will do it and you will believe it. Is this the case? If the Bible says God is a blood-thirsty monster, and wants you to take your neighbor as a sex slave, would you do it? Oh, God would never say such a thing, but what if he did? What would you do?

I appreciate how you assume that I’m an ignorant person who does not really understand the issues properly. If only I would have read Robert Morey or one of the other great Trinitarian apologists. Well, the truth is that I have carefully read every single page of Robert Morey’s “Trinity: Evidence and Issues.” I also spent countless hours working through James White’s book “The Forgotten Trinity” hoping that it would provide me with good reasons to sway me back to my original position. I also read William Rusch, D.M. Baillie, Wright, Grudem, Sproul, MacAruthur, Ladd, McGrath, Brown, Lutzer, Enns, Ryrie, Geisler, McCready, Erickson, Witherington III, Dunn, Blomberg, Carson, Lloyd-Jones, Letham, and others on the Trinity. Which Unitarians have you read?

The fact of the matter is that I really wanted to believe the Trinity. I did not desire to unnecessarily lose my closest friends and colleagues (even though I now realize that anyone who would abandon someone over a belief with no obvious harmful effects is not a true friend). I was also accepted as an apprentice at John Piper’s church. At the time, I would have loved studying under him and as well as ministering in his congregation. I truly didn’t want to be convinced that the Trinity was not true. I wanted good reasons to believe it. On top of all this, who wants to be called a wolf, deceiver, an anti-christ, and yes, your favorite word, apostate by people who are close to you?

Jesus and the apostles reserved these words for those who have teachings which lead to immorality or hypocrisy (i.e. Gnosticism which made it OK to do whatever one pleased with their bodies since their spirit was saved). There are thousands of Unitarians that are morally indistinguishable from their Trinitarian counterparts, maybe just a bit less condescending to those with different views since they know what it is like to be a minority ☺

I too find the intent of Oliver Wendell Holmes quote disturbing. However, the quote can stand on its own terms. We could argue that if Oliver really took his own quote seriously, he would not engage in the morbid test cases you mentioned. He also said, “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are going” Must we toss this in the rubble and refrain from using it as well?

As far as science and veganism is concerned, I do not remember promoting any kind of eastern mysticism, but merely healthy eating, so why you are sounding the alarm I am not sure. One does not necessarily lead to the other. It seems that much of conservative thinking is based on the slippery slope fallacy. Drinking any amount of alcohol may lead to drunkenness and all kinds of debauchery therefore we should never touch it. These arguments seems so silly. Having sex with a spouse may lead to sexual abuse or adultery, so maybe we should all abstain period? Food is one of those areas that people are very sensitive about as they tend to protect their eating habits, regardless of the unnecessary pain, suffering and death caused to other creatures. “Oh, but God gave us the animals to eat.” Well, God also told the Israelites to take the young virgins as sex slaves (Num 31). Until we take a step back and establish some basic principles, there is no end to our madness. If we attempt to live lives which bring about the least amount of suffering, for both humans and animals, maybe we can make some progress. Besides, vegans suffer from the fewest cases of cancer and heart disease. I would suggest listening to the Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast. All healthy food choices take time, effort, and planning.

I find it amazing how often you reference the confirmation of the Holy Spirit for your doctrines. Ironically, there are thousands of Unitarians who claim that Holy Spirit confirms their understanding of the text. I do not think this is helpful in this discussion at all. Virtually every religion claims to have divine guidance in one-way or another. I have spoken to countless Reformed friends, who mock Mormons for having the burning in the bosom, I turn around and this is exactly what they are claiming. Brilliant!

Oh, I see, the church has been wrong on matters of salvation, but not Christ’s deity. People can burn in hell all day long for missing the boat on salvation as long as they know Jesus is YWHW. What amazing grace.

According to Fred, joining a group which upholds the Word of God as infallible and authoritative on matters pertaining to faith and practice is the safest way to go. Well, then, I suppose joining a Mosque that upholds the Koran in this manner would fit the bill. They are certainly more unified than the fractured Protestant denominations. Also, both the Spirit and Truth church and the Church of God Abrahamic Faith hold the Scriptures in this manner, yet they are Unitarians. I don’t see how your method works.

Fred, my statistic of 34,000 Christian denominations came from adherents.com. Let’s say they are off by a few thousand, this does not change my point. Most of these denominations have leaders and pastors who interpret the text each Sunday in a way that is at odds with many others. This should be obvious. Each pastor honestly prays for guidance by the Spirit, yet different interpretations emerge on virtually every issue. The 4 views counterpoint series by Zondervan is evidence of just the most popular perspectives, but certainly not the only perspectives on each topic. This is just as true with issues relating to God’s nature whether you or anybody else wants to admit it. There have always been Unitarians, however scorned and ostracized.

Fred, it would be great if you stopped playing Dr. Phil. It is impossible for you to know my motivations, just as it is for me to know yours. Besides, according to your own theology, you can’t even know your own heart, not to speak of mine!

Fred, I have never abandoned a friend for becoming a 5-point Calvinist or any other form of Christianity. As I mentioned earlier, I once taught all 5 points very confidently. The entire purpose of the meetings I hold are for friends to dialogue, discuss, and debate these things openly. The only people who should feel burned are those who have been lulled under some teaching which suggests that their instruction is the final word on a topic and if you disagree you’ll be scorned, ostracized, denounced, and mocked on blogs like these.

Fred, if I have been tricked by the father of lies as you claim, how can you not have sympathy? It is becoming more and more apparent that you really don’t care, it apparently is a big game for you. I really think that your tactics are mistaken. They only push people like myself further and further away. If you were cordial, respectful, kind, friendly, and willing to sit by a warm fire over a glass of Merlot, you would not have to change your perspective or compromise your understanding of things. I would be glad to talk as one human being to another any day. Your resistance is uncalled for and in some sense sad. If you really wanted to be more effective in bringing back those who are in serious error, then roll out the red carpet and be inviting, not condescending. Smashing people with truth only tells folks that the truth is mean, dark, and nothing they want anything to do with. There are a number of people on this blog who are nowhere near as sneering, yet are just as clear as you are. For some reason you have the idea that you must be this way to make sure everyone knows where you stand. This is utterly unnecessary.

Fred, according to your understanding, all who leave orthodoxy were never really filled with the spirit of God. Can you see that this protects your ideology from serious challenges? In other words, if John MacArthur became a Unitarian, your entire church, including yourself would be immunized from taking his change of mind seriously as you would just reason, those who went out from us were never really of us. He would then fit the description perfectly. Do you realize that orthodoxy can never change because every single time someone changes, they are just pushed outside the church. I could do that too, start a group and then excommunicate anyone who disagrees and then 2000 years from now show everybody that we’ve always held the same beliefs. This proves nothing.

Fred, you claim that I have twisted sound exegesis. Could you please provide an example of where I have done this? Also, you keep insinuating that Unitarianism and Open Theism have been refuted somehow, somewhere. This is obviously a matter of opinion. Yes, they have been responded to, there is no doubt about that, but refuted, hardly. I have no doubt that a Calvinistic interpretation accounts for some texts better than an Open approach. However, there are an overwhelming number of texts which an Open approach is clearly the best interpretation. Accepting the one and ignoring the other does not make anyone a fair and honest interpreter.

Apparently, you think in order to be deity, one must coerce its subjects rather than use persuasion. Is this true? Furthermore, you assert that I think the biblical texts are unreliable. This is simply not the case. If I thought so, I would say so. Please provide some evidence instead of plain assertions. I would be glad to clarify my perspective. I do highly recommend that Christians read Bart Ehrman and wrestle with his arguments. I believe it is healthy to be honest with criticisms, especially from someone who studied at Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College. I also recommend conservatives such as N.T. Wright and James. D.G. Dunn. We should be willing to read any perspective as they only help to keep us fair and honest with the data available. In spite of your sneering, I hold to a six-day, young earth creation, the virgin birth, Jesus’ miracles, a literal bodily resurrection, his ascension, the parousia, millennial kingdom and restoration of Israel. Of course, as long as I believe that God is one, and Jesus is the anointed Son of the one God, not the one God, I am a flaming liberal apostate and hater of the truth. Sure, OK, whatever you say.

If 1 John is for the purpose of instructing those who deny the opposite of what I deny, then what are you so worked up over. I firmly believe that Jesus was a human being, the opposite of the Gnostics who said he only seemed human. I would suggest that Trinitarian teaching is much closer to falling into the category of denying that Jesus was really human. It is questionable whether a non-human God person who had no beginning can have a beginning as a son or daughter of Adam and not be placed into an altogether new category, a hybrid of sorts. This individual would no longer be all that God is (eternally existent and immortal), yet not like other humans who actually begin in their mother’s womb, or at least by a special creative act by God like the first human being, Adam, according to the Genesis account. Many orthodox theologians seem to acknowledge this phenomenon by using the term “God-man.” However, it never seems to occur to many that it may be impossible to be at the same time both immortal and mortal. When pressed, many theologians say that only Jesus’ impersonal human nature died on the cross since his God nature could not die. These kind of ad hoc explanations are not uncommon. If only part of Jesus, that is one nature of two actually died, can it meaningfully be said that Jesus (the entire person) died for sins? The Scriptures do not make these kind of distinctions, chopping Jesus up like a pizza. If Paul, John, or any of the Scriptural authors wanted to communicate such an idea, they had the language within their vocabulary. Paul could have said, there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the God-man Christ Jesus if he chose. He could have called the one mediator a θεοσ ανερ (divine man), however, Paul chose to say that the one mediator between God and man, was simply the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). As demonstrated “God-man” language is replete with logical problems which overall seem to be ignored or excused as a mystery. That Jesus is a pre-temporal, pre-existent, non-human God person who decided to add impersonal human nature should surly be suspect.

When you say you pre-suppose that the Bible is infallible and inerrant, are you willing to re-examine your presuppositions? What I am really asking is if your view is falsifiable. There are thousands of churches that believe that the Bible is infallible but come to interpretations that are very different than your own. Having a high view of the text does not lead to uniformity, including the deity of Christ (who is the Father by the way ☺), Trinity, or the extent and nature of God’s knowledge. I gave two denominations earlier that hold to the same view of Scripture as you but with different views on these three things.

Just as predicted earlier, you claim the guidance of the spirit in leading you to the truth and then mock the Mormons who do the same, You said, “Am I to trust the Mormon burning bosom as an indicator of truth?...No amount of weepy, sentimental pleading on the part of a person soaked in theological error will make them right.” If this is what you think, then I would recommend stop using the sentimental appeal to the Holy Spirit to confirm your perspectives.

You continually believe what many in your own camp have denied, that the Trinity is clear in both the Old and New Testaments. Reformed theologians Roger Olson and Christopher Hall say, “Nowhere is it clearly and unequivocally stated in Scripture” (Roger Olson and Christopher Hall, The Trinity, 1). Millard Erickson says, “To say the doctrine has been revealed is a bit too strong, however, at least with respect to the biblical revelation” (Erickson, God in Three Persons, 258), and “It is unlikely that any text of Scripture can be shown to teach the doctrine of the Trinity in a clear, direct, and unmistakable fashion.” (Erickson, God in Three Persons, 109). Of course, these men are just blind and apparently have not been enabled by the spirit to see clearly as you do.

Lastly, to suggest that I lied to my professors at The Master’s College reveals the depths you will go to smear my character. If you knew anything about what really happened, you would feel foolish for even suggesting this. Even though it is becoming more and more apparent that you are merely responding to the objections that have been raised on this blog, not really satisfactorily answering them, I am more than willing to start off fresh, as if you had never assailed myself or anyone who has responded to your accusations. By the way, you can put the money in my PayPal account on my donation page for the Costco ice-cream bars.


Dan Mages

4:23 PM, February 10, 2007  
Blogger Scanman said...


I have to agree with Dan and other commenters, regarding the demeaning, unprofessional way you have responded to him. Calm, intelligent dialogue will go a long way in clearly perceiving the details of the issues being discussed. Everything else that is non-relevant, is a ploy to distract from the legitimate arguments at hand.

In Christ,


11:07 AM, September 08, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Just so that we are on the same page. Dan defines "unprofessional" and "demeaning" as "someone who dares to challenge my heretical apostasy and write a blog about it."

11:52 AM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger Scanman said...

There is nothing wrong with a good challenge...it is in how you go about it that matters. Like I said before, demeaning labels such as 'heretical' and 'apostacy', are mearely ploys to distract and bias the reader before legitimate facts are presented.

In Christ,


3:31 PM, September 28, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I know you may not want to hear this, but "heretical" and "apostate" are appropriate, biblical terms to describe Dan's departure from orthodox Christianity. It would had been inappropriate for me NOT to have used those terms.

6:05 AM, September 29, 2009  

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