Debate Review: Who Is God? James White Versus Joe Ventilacion (1)
I was asked to review “Who Is God?”, a debate between James White and Joe Ventilacion that took place on April 21st, 2017 in Rapid City, SD. The review will consist of a lengthy series of shorter posts to capture the significance of each of the arguments used and to make them as clear as possible to the readership.
James White: Opening Statement
The position represented by James R. White is that there is only one God.
Proving the existence of one God does not help Iglesias ni Cristo in this debate. James White believes there is only one God.
White is a monotheist. This means he believes there is only one God.
White is not a polytheist. Polytheism is the belief there is more than one god.
The debate is not between monotheism and polytheism. The debate is between two different types of monotheism.
Monotheism is the belief in one God. There are at least two kinds of monotheism.
The two types of monotheism in this debate are Unitarianism and Trinitarianism:
Unitarianism is the belief that the being of God is shared by one person.
Trinitarianism is the belief that the being of God is shared by three persons.
Unitarians must prove Unitarianism. They cannot simply assume that Unitarianism is true, they must prove it.
One way Unitarians try to prove Unitarianism is by turning to John 17:3. In John 17:3, Jesus calls the Father “the only true God.”
Remember, James White believes there is only one true God. And, James White believes the Father is the only true God.
He also believes the Son is the only true God. He also believes the Spirit is the only true God.
This does not mean that there are three gods (Father, Son, and Spirit). No, this means there are three persons (Father, Son, and Spirit) in the one true God.
John 17:3 Does Not Teach Unitarianism
White thinks John 17:3 does not teach Unitarianism. He thinks John 17:3 teaches Jesus is God.
We should look at what John 17:3 says:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
White points out two truths about this verse:
1. Jesus will not call the Father one of many gods, because Jesus only believes in one true God.
It does not follow that Jesus thinks God is only one person.
2. Eternal life is based on the joint knowledge of Father and Son.
Someone who knows only the Father does not have eternal life, because eternal life is knowledge of the Father and the Son!
White wants to be true to the text of the whole Bible, not just one verse. So he points out the context of John 17:3 by moving down to John 17:5:
Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:5)
White points out three truths about this verse:
1. Jesus shared the same glory as the Father.
Jesus had the glory of the one true God because he is God.
2. Jesus shared that glory as a person, not a plan.
‘Plans’ do not use personal pronouns, so Jesus was not just a ‘plan,’ he was and is a person.
3. Jesus existed before the world began.
Jesus, the Son, has always existed with God the Father, because the Son is God.
Believe the Bible
We must base our beliefs about God on the Bible alone. We must base our beliefs on all of the Bible.
If the Bible says God is three persons sharing one divine being then Trinitarianism wins the debate.
In this post, we saw that John 17:3 does not teach the Unitarianism of Iglesia ni Cristo.
In the next post, we will see if White provides Bible verses to back up his claim that Jesus is God with the Father.
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