the Spirit Watch
The Trinity Studies:
An Analysis Of Gwen Shamblin's "Essence Of God" Statement
Part 6: "How Did The Jews And Jesus View God?"
by Rafael D. Martinez, Co-Director, Spiritwatch Ministries
Christianity came from the Jews and for centuries they knew that no one could see YHWH face to face and still live. The Jews were afraid to say God’s name much less see Him face to face. The Jews were well aware of the distinction between YHWH and the coming Messiah who would be an earthly Savior.
This is true. Christianity emerged from the Jewish community in Palestine but at the direct command and example of Christ Himself, the faith immediately distinguished itself as a revelation of God's will for all mankind – both Jew and Gentile - which had been long foretold in Jewish Old Testament Scripture. It is also true that the Jewish nation, when scattered across the ancient Near East after Jerusalem's destruction in 586 B.C., also longed and hoped for the coming of a prophesied Messiah who would deliver and restore them even as they suffered in slavery and exile. Shamblin's assertion that their views of a distinction between Yahweh and His "Anointed One" as an "earthly Savior" are partially true.
But this is only because of Israel's misunderstanding of who the Messiah was to be, becaming degraded as a direct result of the Jewish nation's rejection of Yahweh's Lordship and the words of the law and the prophets He gave them and the social calamities their nation suffered in Old Testament times. They came to view the Messiah in terms of a champion who would politically, socially, and physically materialize the power, glory and authority of Israel once more on the earth. This came about after the final destruction of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel that ended in 586 BC with Jerusalem's destruction, the plunder of the temple, and the beginning of the Captivity of the whole nation in Babylon. The prophetic references throughout the law and the prophets (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 among them) that clearly referred to the deity and humanity of the Messiah as a suffering servant were largely lost upon them. His atoning sacrifical death foretold became overlooked by a people struggling with wave after wave of powerful Gentile nations after their gracious release by King Cyrus of the Persians to return and rebuild Jerusalem. They longed for a champion.
This was why, at the time of His ministry among Israel, so very few could recognize who He was by what He did and said, and preferred the militant and popular folklore that portrayed the Messiah only as a fiery holy warrior who rule the nations with his rod of righteousness. By the time the Roman Empire came to occupy Palestine, the nation was entirely swept by the end time longing for a deliverer, necessitating Jesus' decision to completely reject the crowd's calls to initiate a wholesale wiping out of Israel's enemies.
While the scattered Jewish people across the Gentile lands of that day who were slaves or subjects of world powers like the Babylonians, Persians and Romans (the "Diaspora") certainly believed that God was One that was where any affinity they may have with Shamblin's view ended. While she may strongly identify with Jewish monotheism, she doesn't explain just how closely she can also share in Israel's rejection of her Messiah. For the Jews then, as now, Jesus is at best a misguided and radical rabbi whose delusions convinced him that He was divine. His death is not viewed as having any power to atone for the sins of Israel, let alone the Gentiles, and indeed, the Jewish system of sacrificial law keeping continues despite the plain fact that Jesus ended it in his completion of it at the Cross.
Indeed, Shamblin's equally degraded view of who Jesus was which steadfastly tries to portray Jesus as the best example of submission around while maintaining belief in his possession of divine authority that wasn't "his" is no better. The only uncomfortable proximity Gwen Shamblin may have with the Jews, whether she wants to embrace this ignoble fact, is that she - like they - categorically reject or dismiss the law and the prophets which foretold the coming of the Messiah in the same way she does now:
It was and should be impossible to think that God made Himself into a baby and then let men kill Him on a cross!
Shamblin's blunt dismissal of the central truth of the Christian faith – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ – as an offensive impossibility is also a grievous rejection of His glorious person as well. How greatly she errs here! It underscores to what extent Shamblin's own perceptions color her approach to Biblical truth. She finds it "impossible to think" of God as having become a child and to allow Him to be "killed .. on a cross." But as offensive as it is for her to conceive it, this is just what the Bible itself foretold. We have seen only some of the ample Biblical evidence of God's Triune nature, and because Shamblin's carnal reasoning refuses to acknowledge or submit to it, it would only be obvious to expect her to be so undeniably blasphemous.
Still, God indeed did purpose to do just that, in the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son: no less than the angel Gabriel came to hail the good tidings. A virgin woman would give birth to a child, and would be born into the world the same way as any other.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-- which means, "God with us." (NIV)
John 1:1-4, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (NIV)
There are inexhaustibly rich mines of Scriptural understanding and truth we can work here in just these three verses, but we should come away from them with one clear treasure in hand: it was God's pleasure and direct will that He would indeed enter the very world He created to become a man like us. He put off his unspeakably infinate majesty to take on the robes of humanity in the form of an infant who would enter the world in blood and water between the legs of a virgin Jewish girl 2000 years ago dragging an afterbirth. It may offend the sensibilities of a proper Ms. Gwen, but that is how it happened. The Creator of all we know is also the Head of the Body of Christ and Lord over all things – but in His infinite wisdom and grace, He chose, as Michael Card beautifully described it, to have "eternity step into time" in the form of a baby who needed to suckle at the milk-swollen breast of this young woman to live, who had to teeth, crawl and wobblingly walk like any other human child. That same child with dirty diapers and spittle on his dark Semitic face was Lord over creation, time and death itself. Christians didn't create this breathtaking truth claim as a fable – it is nothing less than God's prophetically revealed wisdom.
And it is this pearl of great price that Shamblin slings into the mud of her fulsome God-talk.
At the time this new concept was introduced, there wasn’t a strong scriptural argument for this new teaching, but rather a powerful authoritarian leadership in the 3rd and 4th century that burned dissenters at the stake. Arguments for the creed would remain weak but with the use of strong fear tactics, the teaching was reinforced and surpassed the centuries old Judeo/Christian foundational teachings of “Hear O’ Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), and that God would give power and authority to His Son because His Son lived to please Him and was tempted by Satan but refused to misuse this power and try to take over God’s position.
This further betrays Shamblin's towering ignorance about church history and her eagerness to grossly exaggerate and misrepresent the known facts within it to further her warped convictions. It also supports the contention I've made about her even greater error of twisting Scripture to fit her doctrine and not instead submitting to what it plainly shows about the nature of God, preferring her own views on relationships to color her understanding.
First of all, the dramatic imagery of "burning dissenters" at the stake evokes a social reality that didn't exist until almost a millennia later. What she apparently is referring to are public executions that the established ecclesiastical authority resorted to in pre-Reformation Europe that took place. While this Roman Catholic church authority asserted it's strong dominance over state and society, those executions that resulted in torture and death were relatively few and far between. It wasn't until the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation periods of church history began, from the 1400's and onward that executions like this regularly took place in highly charged settings where Protestants and Roman Catholics struggled with one another across Europe.
In the third century, aside from the temporal power of the Roman Empire, there simply was no "powerful authoritarian leadership" that ruled with a sinister iron fist over the church. Shamblin's fanciful characterization of the 3rd century church's leadership as "authoritarian" is about as correct as her understanding of the Triune doctrine actually is. It simply doesn't square with reality.
At the start of the 3rd century, the church was beset on every side by a hostile pagan culture stretching from one end of the cold British isles to the Egyptian desert, from the dark forests of Germany to the Moroccan coasts. Untold thousands of Christians held their faith under conditions we can't even begin to imagine, being confronted daily with a totally materialistic culture filled at with abomination, cruelty, and intellectual challenges to its claims, not to mention the ever present specter of hunger, poverty and sickness.
Christianity was viewed as a secret society of cultic extremism itself which was entirely at odds with the pagan and carnally-bent religious sensibilities of the day. What the early Church saw as their attempt to please God in separating from the sensuality and wicked dimensions of their pagan culture the Roman world itself saw as destabilizing and a threat to their social order. Imagine how that would play out down to the level of daily life, how this would impact a pagan home dedicated to the daily veneration of gods when a daughter or a son began to resist involvement with it because of what they heard in a secret meeting held in a stranger's home.
And the pressures of the Roman world came down hardest on their leaders. Roman legates continually sought to compel them to lead their communities to submit to pagan ritual to signify loyalty to the Emperor and were faced daily with the more mundane temptations to compromise with the world around them. Church leaders were regularly captured and tortured in ways too graphic to describe here. Written copies of the Scriptures were burned and Christians were actually barely even tolerated in Roman society. If anything, all historical accounts reveal just the opposite – that the Christian Church, while clearly organized to a great extent around elders and bishops who ministered to their communities of faith, was shut completely out of being counted as a part of Roman society at all.
So Shamblin's fanciful belief in a "authoritarian leadership" is a shot in the dark that hits nothing. To quote Hilary Clinton, there was no "vast right wing conspiracy" of church-dominated rulers who imposed their warped theology on the hapless Christians. It fits her conspiratorial worldview that reinforces her "Us versus Them" mindset which she uses to nurture her cult's paranoiac view of the "counterfeit church." This was a church that had weathered storm after storm of persecution and rejection by the world at large, hated even more than the Jewish communities themselves, and it stood true, if imperfect in so many ways, and yet she would insist that this same body of believers would so readily compromise? Many of the bishops who came to the council of Nicea were lame due to the shattering of their bodies in Roman tortures. Some came missing eyes, fingers and extremities. These were the tried and true survivors of persecutions we can't begin to ever fully imagine, and it is Shamblin who insists that these Christians would just cave to pressure now and begin a wholesale and systematic apostacy that was supplanted by even further torture. I cannot but conclude that her reasoning is simply delusional. It didn't happen. The dramatic casting of a powerful and corrupt church that forced people to believe creeds filled with falsehood because of some incipient fear that its teachings were "weak" is yet another outburst of emotion-laden and empty rhetoric. She makes no attempt to tell us what is weak in "the creeds" but just lathers her polemic on heavily to appear as if she knows what she talks about – which she obviously doesn't.
She continues to press home that Jesus' primary example to commend Him is in how well he submitted to His Father. This is important to bear in mind. I have mentioned how Shamblin's biases and presuppositions are what drive her hermeneutic and this is even more evidence. Nothing else about the nature of God matters to her and it is from this angle that she will stubbornly pursue throughout the rest of this document's attack on the Trinity revelation. Mingled with her withering and contemptuous verbosity that misrepresents the Trinity doctrine, this is how she has chosen to spread her false doctrine.
We've seen her "Essence of God" illustration bring this home powerfully. Interpersonal relationships are the way in which she energetically creates her cultic following and she logically makes this dimension of the revealed relationship He had with His Father become the only real reference point to how we are to understand the nature of God Himself. Her breathless torrent about God "(giving) power and authority to His Son because His Son lived to please Him" is a reference to this central pillar in her thinking and she expands upon it more when she portray's Christ's temptation in the wilderness as a ploy "to take over God’s position." This is a subtle twist, but one that must be held firmly in mind because it as precisely at this point that Shamblin has so terribly gone into apostacy and has become a full blown apostate leading many into her doctrinal and practical bondage. Shamblin's only recourse after fighting delay action after delay action through insults and misrepresentations of Christian truth is to simply pour on more of it:
(Read about the temptations of power offered to Jesus in Luke Chapter 4.) This several thousand year old Judeo/Christian teaching was replaced with a “god-head with multiple personalities and forms”; a god-head that would even talk to Himself on the cross, in the garden and during baptism. Because of an oppressive religious system that was unlike any system that had ever hit the planet, people were tortured into reciting and accepting the new man-made doctrine. The introduction that God had two or three heads was most definitely frightening to the early church, for the Jews and early Christians knew from all scripture that Jesus was the Son of God and God Almighty and Jesus were two separate beings. No such godhead concept had been introduced in scripture. God as the Father is referenced many, many times and Jesus being referred to as the Son of the Father, multiple times. This new concept, that Jesus was really just the Father incarnate, was shocking and that was why it was and is hotly debated.
This is a passage of absurd claims that we've already discussed and going into this to discuss it further will only more slow us further down in completing this study. I have already lingered long over too much of this. We'll explore the temptations of Christ as related in Luke 4 later. For now, it is simply the raving of a woman with no understanding of history both sacred and secular, no understanding of theology but who does appreciate her abilities to sound authoritative and Biblical all the while evading any real discussion or definition of her apostacy. Much of this document is filled with this and we simply don't have time to wallow through this mire when we've already seen just how baseless much of it is.
More to follow -
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