DID YESHUA THE MESSIAH

Have a Pre-Carnal Existence? - Chapter 6

Part II – The Enhanced Public Debate Presentation

 

By Larry Acheson

 

A Response to Chuck Henry’s book

Trinity, Oneness, Duality, and Pre-Existence

 

 


 

 

VI.  Who (or What) is the Word?

       

  

I

n my debate presentation on “Who or What is the Word?” I mentioned that I wanted to briefly address this topic. My coverage was indeed brief, but let me just say incorporating such a controversial aspect of this discussion into a 45-minute presentation offered me little opportunity to give it the attention it deserves.  I spent maybe five minutes covering this critical component to the discussion, but frankly, I could have spent most, if not my entire allotted time, addressing it.  References to “The Word,” for those not already familiar with its usage in the Bible, are found in both the Old and New Testament.  The Hebrew word is Dabar (דְבַר) and the Greek word is Logos (λόγος).  In the Old Testament, we read of how “The Word of Yahweh” came to various prophets.  In the New Testament, we read that “in the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) and “the Word became flesh (John 1:14).  Since my primary objective during this portion of my debate presentation was to cover the Greek text of John 1:1, the word logos is the word on which I will focus for the majority of this chapter.  Biblical Unitarians such as Chuck Henry maintain that the Word (Logos) is “the Plan” or “Reasoning” of Yahweh.  I am persuaded that the Word is the physical manifestation of Yahweh.  In the Old Testament, it was the Man/Angel/Elohim whom we’ve already presented in this study.  In the New Testament, I am persuaded that this Angel became the flesh and blood Son of Yahweh.

      Trinitarians teach that the Word is Elohim and I agree with them, but when we go deeper than that, things get a little dicey be-cause, as I’ve previously established, the Angel with whom the patriarchs of Old visited face to face is not the same as the Most High Supreme Father, the “only true Elohim,” as Yeshua put it in John 17:3.  No man can look upon the Most High Supreme Father and live.  My understanding of Scripture is that the Word emanated from the Father and as such, had a beginning.  Yahweh the Most High Supreme Elohim, on the other hand, is eternal, which means He has no beginning and He is without end.

      I have no intention of trying to identify or define the essence of Elohim because I don’t think it’s possible for any human to grasp it.  However, I find the study of how Yahweh interacted with His people in the days of Old quite fascinating, so although I cannot define His essence or otherwise explain what it’s like, I can at least see that Yahweh wants a relation-ship with us.  In other words, He loves us and wants what’s best for His children.  I am persuaded that those involved in this discussion, including Chuck Henry, have an understanding of this concept and that we mutually embrace and desire that special relationship.  It is partly due to this understanding I have that I previously had absolutely no desire to engage anyone in this discussion.  To me, it is sufficient for us to understand that we have a loving Heavenly Father who seeks a special relationship with His children and in spite of His showing us what we need to do to reciprocate and cultivate that relationship, we (mankind) have collectively let Him down, opting to choose another path.  Our only means of redemption is through the offering of that perfect Lamb, His Son.  That’s it in a nutshell.  I didn’t see the need to further explore the origin of that perfect Lamb.

      If we must seek to clarify exactly who or what the Word (Logos) is, I am persuaded that a basic reading of both the Old and New Testament presents the Word as a manifestation of Yahweh and that’s why I have often referred to the Angel of Yahweh as the physical manifestation of Yahweh.  I like the way Bible commentator J. B. Lightfoot, back in 1875, explained the Logos:

The word λόγος then, denoting both ‘reason’ and ‘speech,’ was a philosophical term adopted by Alexandrian Judaism before St Paul wrote, to express the manifestation of the Unseen God, the Absolute Being, in the creation and government of the World.  It included all modes by which God makes Himself known to man.  As His reason, it denoted His purpose or design; as His speech, it implied His revelation.[1]

      As expressed by J. B. Lightfoot, the Logos was understood as the means by which the “Absolute Being,” i.e., the Most High Supreme Elohim, reveals or manifests Himself to the World.  I agree with Lightfoot’s perspective, which in turn represents the view adopted by Alexandrian Judaism.  In both this study and in Part I, I presented my understanding that in Old Testament times, Yahweh manifested Himself in the form of an Angel.  In New Testament times, it is in the form of His Son who, as I understand it, is the same Angel of the Old Testament.  He’s the coming Ruler whose origin is from of Old, from ancient times (Micah 5:2).

        With this as my introduction to this chapter, I would now like to pick up where I left off in my debate presentation:

        I want to briefly address the fact that in John chapter 1, Yeshua is presented as the Logos or the “WORD” who was with Yahweh in the beginning.  Chuck claims that the word Logos is better understood as being a “Plan.”  So according to Chuck, it was the PLAN that was with Yahweh in the beginning, NOT Yeshua.

      Displayed below is an excerpt from page 474 of Chuck’s March 2019 revision to his book, which formed a part of Chuck’s warm-up debate presentation.  Chuck writes that the logos of Elohim was Yahweh’s plan for the Messiah to one day become flesh.  When that PLAN was executed, Chuck says THAT is when Yeshua came into existence:

      The problems posed by Chuck’s understanding of Logos are multi-faceted, but the root of his problem is having to explain how the Logos/Word of Yahweh of the New Testament cannot be the same Dabar/Word of Yahweh from the Old Testament.  Dabar (דְבַר) is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word Logos, and in the Old Testament Dabar is often used to denote a Person, not a “Plan.”  For example, in 1 Kings 17:8 we read of how the Word of Yahweh (דְבַר־יהוה Dabar Yahweh) came to Elijah and instructed him to go to the widow of Zarephath.  Was this the “Plan” of Yahweh that came to Elijah, or could it have been the physical manifestation of Yahweh?  I personally find it highly unlikely that a “Plan” of Yahweh came to Elijah with those instructions.

      The reason Biblical Unitarians need Logos or Dabar to be a non-person is because we learn from the Apostle John that the Logos (the Word) made “all things.”  In their attempt to find an explanation that retains their respect for the Apostle John, Biblical Unitarians produce the claim that, no, John didn’t mean for us to understand that the Logos performed any works of creation.  Displayed below is John 1:1-3:

1 In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with Elohim and the Word was Elohim.

2 The same was in the beginning with Elohim.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

      For those who understand that the object of the above passage is “the Word,” it doesn’t make sense that “All things were made by the Plan,” so the “workaround” for Biblical Unitarians is to claim that “made by him” refers not to “made by the Word,” but rather to “made by Elohim,” as in the Elohim referenced in verse 2.  In other words, a paraphrasing of their understanding of the passage goes something like this:

The Word was with Elohim and what Elohim was, the Word was; the same (Word) was in the beginning with Elohim and all things were made by Elohim.

      The above is a general paraphrasing of how Biblical Unitarians tend to interpret John 1:1-3.  Instead of all things being made by the Word, their interpretation is that all things were made by Elohim and the Word is reduced to Yahweh’s “thought process” or “Plan.”  However, if you follow the train of thought as presented by the Apostle John, he’s telling us about the WordThe spot-light is on “the Word.”  While “Elohim” forms an integral part of John’s commentary, his focus is on the Word.  Thus, when we are told that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with Elohim, the Word was Elohim and the same (Word) was with Elohim in the beginning, then we expect the next verse to also be about the Word when it says “All things were made by Him.”  The understanding fits that all things were made by the Word because, again, John’s focus is on the Word.

      Displayed below is a screen shot from page 383 of Trinity, Oneness, Duality, and Pre-Existence.[2]  I circled the word “Elohim” to illustrate how Chuck attempts to transition the subject from being the Word to Elohim in his effort to present the Word as “the Plan”:

      Again, if Biblical Unitarians can successfully shift the focus from “the Word” being the Creator to “Elohim” being the Creator, this opens the door for them to reinforce their claim that “the Word” is merely a “Plan,” not a person.  Instead of all things being made “by Him,” as in “by the Logos,” Chuck would have us believe “All things were made through Elohim” (the Supreme Most High), and the Plan was simply the means by which the Supreme Most High Elohim used His mental faculties of reasoning to create the universe. I highly doubt that’s what the Apostle John was attempting to convey to his reading audience, but Chuck is free to interpret things however he chooses.  I’m borrowing Chuck’s page to high-light my understanding of the real “by whom” all things were made:

      Again, my understanding is that “All things made by HIM” points back to the Logos.  Since the object of John’s commentary is the Logos, who was with Elohim in the beginning, this same Logos is who created “all things.”  Please note that Chuck quotes from a Bible that uses the phrase “All things were made through Him.”  Other versions offer more clarity with the phrasing:  “All things were made by Him.”  Made by who?  The Logos (λόγος) – the same Logos who, according to John 1:14, “became flesh.”

      In the first edition of his book Trinity, Oneness, Duality, and Pre-Existence, Chuck further clarifies his belief that “Logos” is essentially what makes us who we are:  our ability to reason and make plans.  He writes, “‘The logos was with Elohim’ in the same way that your reasoning and plans are with you, and they are, in effect, you.  Your reasoning and plans determine your actions and your attitude.  Simply put, you are who you are!”  Here’s a slide that I used during our March 2019 warm-up debate on this topic, which incorporates the pertinent excerpt from Chuck’s book:

      As we ponder Chuck’s understanding of Logos, let’s ask ourselves things like, “Does Chuck’s definition and understanding of what Logos is make sense?”  “Does his understanding of Logos fit the Scriptural understanding of its application to the Messiah?”  “Is Chuck’s understanding of Logos what the Apostle John was attempting to convey in John 1:1-3?”

      Shouldn’t we let the Apostle John clarify his own understanding of “who” or “what” Logos is?  John is the author of the book of Revelation and in that book he leaves no room to speculate what he means by Logos.  Please keep in mind that the Greek word Logos is frequently translated “Word” in the New Testament.  Shown below is the text of Revelation 19:13 as displayed on one of my presentation slides:

      As displayed above, the Apostle John plainly identifies Yeshua as the Logos, the WORD of the Almighty.  Yeshua is identified as the Logos of the Almighty and according to this same Apostle John it’s the Logos who was with Yahweh in the Beginning and it is this same Logos who created the world.  Yeshua is also the same Word of Yahweh (Dabar Yahweh) who, in Zechariah chapter 12:10 stated, “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced.” Moreover, John points to Yeshua as the Logos who became flesh (John 1:14):

14 And the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his majesty, the majesty as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

      If Yeshua had a pre-carnal existence, which means He lived as a spiritual Being with the Father, then to become a flesh and blood human, He had to give up that spiritual nature, “emptying Himself” of that heavenly form.  As it turns out, that is precisely what the Apostle Paul says He did in Philippians 2:5-8.  Displayed below is Philippians 2:5-8 as found in the New Revised Standard Version with corrected names:

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Messiah Yeshua,

6 who though he was in the form [morphe] of Elohim, did not regard equality with Elohim as something to be exploited,

7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form,

8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

      According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the book of Philippians, Yeshua was in the form (Greek morphe) of Elohim.  The Greek word morphe is word #3444 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary and literally means “shape” or “form.”  Chuck argues that all of us were created in the image of Elohim, as though Yeshua’s being in the “form” of Elohim is nothing special, since all of mankind is made “in His image”[3]; if so, then why would Paul have chosen to single out the fact that Yeshua was in the form of Elohim instead of in His image?   I would say this goes beyond “being in the image of Elohim.”  In fact, if you consult the Septuagint version of the Genesis creation account, the Greek word translated “image” when Elohim made Adam “in our image,” is not the same Greek word used in the text of Philippians 2:6.  In Genesis 1:26 of the Septuagint, we read, “Let us make man according to our image and according to our likeness.”  The Greek word translated “image” is eikona, word #1504 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary.  This word means a “representation” (think “icon”), not “form.”  Moreover, the word translated “likeness” in the Septuagint version of Genesis 1:26 is homoiosin, word #3669 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary.  It literally means resemblance; again, not the same as the word translated “form” in Philippians 2:6.

      I hope to devote more space addressing Philippians 2:5-8 in a later edition of my study, including the fact that in his book, Chuck avoids explaining what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote in verse seven that Yeshua “emptied Himself.”  If He didn’t “empty Himself” of the form He shared with His Father, then exactly what did He empty Himself of?  And if being “in the form of Elohim” truly means being in His image, just like all men, then why would He need to empty Himself of that form to be born in human likeness?  The mental gymnastics that Biblical Unitarians perform in their attempts to explain this passage defy logic.  Again, I plan on covering this passage in greater detail in a future study.  In the meantime, it should be noted that Chuck’s decision to equate the Greek word translated “form” in Philippians 2:6 with the Greek word translated “image” in Genesis 1:26 is either deliberate deception or irresponsible exegesis.  They’re two separate Greek words and while they may have similar meanings, they’re not synonymous.

      And now, back to the point I was making above:  If Yeshua had a pre-carnal existence, which means He lived as a spiritual being with the Father, then for Him to become a flesh and blood human meant that He had to give up  that spiritual nature, “emptying Himself” of that heavenly form (morphe).  As it turns out, that is precisely what the Apostle Paul says He did in Philippians 2:5-8.  I will spare you another citation of this passage, but please feel free to scroll back up and read it again because when translated properly and read without any preconceived biases, this passage in Philippians vividly tells us that Yeshua gave up a pre-carnal existence in the form of Elohim to become a flesh and blood human.  In other words, the Logos became flesh, just as the Apostle John explained.  And who did John say is the Word (Logos)?  Read it for yourself in Revelation 19:13.  Displayed below, for the purpose of supplying context, is Revelation 19:11-16:

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word (Logos) of Elohim.

14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of El Shaddai.

16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, and SOVEREIGN OF SOVEREIGNS.

      There should be no question that the One whose name is called “The Word (Logos) of Elohim” is none other than Yeshua the Messiah. The Logos is more than a “Plan,” it is a Man, a glorified Man who, before becoming a Man, had a pre-carnal existence with His Father.

 

Preaching to the Choir:  He Came as a Man

 

      A very sensitive aspect of the debate that I was not properly prepared to address was Chuck’s frequent references to Yeshua coming as a Man.  I say I wasn’t “properly prepared” because I had already mentioned several times in my presentation that Yeshua came as a Man, that He came in the flesh, yet Chuck dwelt on this same fact so heavily that it apparently conveyed to at least some members of the audience the impression that I don’t truly believe Yeshua came “in the flesh.”  Here’s an excerpt from Chuck’s presentation:

Because of time, I’m not going to go through the rest of these, but you can see -- up here on the display -- I hope you can see these -- that officers acknowledged Him as a Man, Yeshua called Himself a Man, the blind man confessed Yeshua as a Man, the Pharisees called Yeshua a Man, the Jews recognized Yeshua as a Man, believers in Yeshua called Him a Man, the chief priests and Pharisees called Him a Man, Pilate again calls Yeshua a Man in John 18:29, and I’m just going through these in book and chapter order; and so, some of these individuals who referred to Yeshua as a man repeat. And so, that completes the list of over 30 quotes that call Him a Man.[4]

      A debate protocol is that we’re not supposed to interrupt each other’s presentations.  Although I  didn’t interrupt Chuck during the debate, after listening to him repeatedly focus on the fact that Yeshua came as a Man, I was tempted to interrupt and ask, “What do you think you’re doing???!!  Have I ever insinuated that Yeshua never came as a Man?”  I guess I saved my exasperation for later – during the “Question & Answer Session.”  At that time, one audience member, in a question submitted after the debate presentations had ended asked, “Do you deny that Yahshua Messiah is come in the flesh? -- - I John 4:13 and II John 6-7.”  It bears explaining that I only read this question for the first time while seated at the “debate table” as Chuck was answering his set of questions.  I was not given sufficient time to read and answer all the questions that were submitted during the 20-minute recess.  I do not like being pressured to answer questions “on the spot” without time to give them careful thought and consideration; my answer to this question is an example of why try to not put myself in such situations.  No one who has ADHD likes being pressured to answer questions quickly “off the top of your head,” so to speak.  At the risk of coming across as a “broken record,” I will here repeat that I had requested an hour to read and mull over audience questions in the interest of answering them carefully instead of in “kneejerk” fashion.  My request was granted two months prior to the debate, but minutes before it began, I was pressured into foregoing that one hour of time.  In my rush to answer the question, I immediately composed a “kneejerk” answer while seated at the table that, while true, was not as gracious as I would have otherwise answered if I had been given sufficient time to ponder its import.  Here’s what I displayed on the view screen for all to see:

      When you read the audience member’s question, along with the proof texts that were supplied with the question, it’s easy to under-stand that he or she apparently had the impression that I do not believe Yeshua came in the flesh, in spite of my presentation comments to the contrary.  The proof texts would thus “prove” me to have the spirit of the anti-messiah and that I am “not of Elohim” (1 John 4:3).  Consequently, according to 2 John 6-7, in the mind of the individual who posed the question, I am a deceiver and anti-messiah for teaching that Yeshua did not come “in the flesh.”  Moreover, if you finish reading the chapter, assuming I am guilty of this charge, I should not be welcomed into the homes of true believers (2 John 10).

      It was difficult to frame my words, being in such a state of shock and disappointment, as I read the words on the index card, but looking back at the debate, I have come to consider the potential that Chuck may have intentionally presented my belief structure the way he did in order to sway the way he did.  I say this because he should have known, both from our warm-up debate of March 2019 and the follow-up debate of June 2019, that I absolutely believe Yeshua came as a flesh and blood Man.  Assuming he already knew this about me, his debate tactic is incredible insofar as coming from someone who claims to follow the same Bible I do.  If this is what he did, knowing all along I agree that Yeshua came in the flesh, the stratagem he chose is a dangerous path to follow; but it worked, at least for one audience member.  Nevertheless, it was wrong to do – tantamount to a false accusation. Just think of all those who have been falsely accused, judged and convicted since the dawn of time.  All the lives lost, reputations destroyed – all because someone intentionally created a false impression of the victims.  Who’s the false witness, I might ask?  Hence, my reaction was genuine and it was honest. My emotions were not contained within my answer.  I’m not saying I like the way I answered the question because I most certainly do not, but maybe some readers will at least have a better understanding of my thought process when being accused of something I’m not guilty of?  Many of us can say, “I’ve been there.”

      To be ultra-clear, I believe Yeshua had a pre-carnal existence, but He gave it up to become a Man.  A flesh and blood human.  I thought I made that point clear during my presentation, but obviously I didn’t make it clear enough.  Since the audience member who asked the question apparently missed my comments about Yeshua having come in the flesh, I should have answered it something like this:

Thank you for that question.  I actually addressed my belief that Yeshua came in the flesh several times during my presentation, but this gives me an opportunity to review why I believe as I do.  Briefly, we are told in Philippians 2:5-8 that Yeshua, though He was in the form of Elohim, did not regard that equality as something to be exploited, but He “emptied Himself,” taking on the form of a flesh and blood servant, being born or made in human likeness.  So He’s the Firstborn of all creation, but He’s also our Creator because, after all, He’s the Logos and John says all things were made by Him in John 1:3 and John 1:10.  Paul says the same thing in Colossians 1:16.  He appeared as an Angel to the likes of Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Joshua and He was prophesied to be the Ruler who came out of Bethlehem, whose origin is from of Old, from ancient times.  He’s the Root of David, but He’s also the Offspring of David.  He existed before Abraham was born, but He came and dwelt among us as a flesh and blood Man.  If I don’t believe He came as a flesh and blood human being, then how can I believe His blood atones for my sins?  Can you answer that question, please?

      I composed the above answer in about 10 minutes.  I wish I could have been permitted that space of time to come up with such a response while at the debate.  My answer wouldn’t have been identical to the above, but it would have come close.

      There’s more about the Logos that we need to cover.  The testimony of first-century Jew Philo is important because, as we’re about to see, it agrees with what the Apostle John had to say with no room for Chuck to tell us “what Philo really meant.”  Instead of refuting Philo’s testimony, Chuck perpetrated an ad hominem attack on him.  Was it justified?   Please consider the information in the following chapter(s) and I’ll let you be the judge of Chuck’s judgment against Philo.


[1] St Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, commentary on Colossians 1:15, by J. B. Lightfoot, D.D., London: MacMillan and Co., 1875, p. 209.  Currently available for reading online.

[2] Chuck Henry, Trinity, Oneness, Duality & Pre-Existence, H.V. Chapman & Sons Bookbinders, Abilene, TX, 2018, p. 383.

[3] C.f., Chuck Henry, Trinity, Oneness, Duality & Pre-Existence, H.V. Chapman & Sons Bookbinders, Abilene, TX, 2018, p. 453, where he writes, “The text does not say that Yeshua is Yahweh, it says Yeshua is ‘in the form of Yahweh,’ as are all men (Gen 1:27).”  (Highlighting mine for emphasis purposes.

[4] This portion of Chuck’s commentary begins at the 1 hour, 58 second mark of the debate video.

       

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First Publication, June 28, 2020

Edited August 16, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the name of our Creator, Yahweh, sometimes called the Tetragrammaton.  It is given here in (A) the Phoenician script, (B) the Ivrit Kadum (Paleo-Hebrew) script, and (C) the Modern Hebrew script (a stylization of Aramaic).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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