THE NAME OF GOD AS REVEALED IN EXODUS 3:14

An explanation of its meaning

K J Cronin

A Refutation of Christianity

According to Jewish belief, God is one in His Person. According to Christian belief, God is three divine persons. God cannot be both one in His Person and three persons and so one of these beliefs is false. I am convinced of the validity of the Jewish understanding of God and I am equally convinced of the invalidity of the Christian understanding. My purpose in this paper is to demonstrate the latter. For a very useful summary of previous attempts to accomplish this I would recommend Daniel Lasker’s Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages.[1]

There is such an enormous quantity of Christian theology that tackling it might at first appear to be a daunting task. However, it is not as daunting as it might first appear because there is no need to tackle it wholesale in the way that Hasdai Crescas attempted to do.[2] To complete the task of refutation it is necessary to establish the invalidity of just one indispensable Christian doctrine, because if just one indispensable doctrine is demonstrably invalid then the whole edifice of Christian thought is without foundation and is likewise invalid. It really is that simple. However, I intend to go two steps further than this by refuting three of the indispensable doctrines of Christianity. The three key doctrines to be refuted are the Incarnation, Redemption and the Trinity. If any of these three is demonstrably invalid then the entire edifice of Christianity falls.

To begin with it is my contention that the doctrine of the Incarnation cannot be directly refuted. However, it is also my contention that the doctrine of the Incarnation can be indirectly refuted and decisively so. This is so because the answers that have been proposed by Christian thinkers to the question of why God became Incarnate are all related to the doctrine of the Redemption or salvation of mankind and depend for their validity upon that doctrine, and it is decisively refutable.

By way of confirming that dependency, here is an extract from the most universally accepted and binding Creed in Christendom, the Nicene (or Niceno-Constantinople) Creed of 381 CE: “We believe in….one Lord Jesus Christ….who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh…and became man[3] and here is a decree from the Council of Florence of 1438 CE: “The sacrosanct Roman Church…believes, professes and proclaims that….(the) Son of God….for the salvation of the human race, assumed true and complete human nature (i.e. became Incarnate)”[4] and here is one of the greatest and most influential thinkers in Christian history, Thomas Aquinas, who says the following: “But because man, on deserting God, had stooped to corporeal things, it was necessary that God should take flesh, and by corporeal things should afford him the remedy of salvation” and “…the work of Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin; so that, had sin not existed, Incarnation would not have been.”[5] and Ott sums it up as follows: “The testimony of Holy Writ favours the (same) view. In numerous passages it names the redemption of mankind as the motive of the Incarnation. The Church Fathers are unanimous in teaching that the Incarnation of the son of God was solely to redeem mankind”.[6]

So it is firmly established that the doctrine of the Incarnation is dependent for its validity upon the doctrine of Redemption. It is therefore clear that if the doctrine of Redemption is demonstrably invalid then the doctrine of the Incarnation is likewise invalid and the two fall as one. It is therefore my purpose in what follows to demonstrate the invalidity of the Christian doctrine of Redemption.

Before I proceed to the doctrine of Redemption there are two other doctrines I want to briefly present. The first is that God-the-father specifically required the suffering and death of his Godman son Jesus Christ in order to be reconciled with humanity. To confirm this, here is an extract from the Nicene Creed of 381: “We believe in….one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God… who for us men and for our salvation….was crucified for us[7] and here is a declaration from the Council of Trent of 1559: “…the same Lord and our God Jesus Christ did submit to the most cruel death on the cross to redeem us from sins and from eternal death, and to reunite us with the Father”.[8] The second doctrine is that human sin and Incarnation were predestined to happen. To confirm this here is Aquinas:He predestined the work of the Incarnation to be the remedy of human sin”.[9]

So it is that the Christian God-the-son is believed by Christians to have become Incarnate and to have suffered and died in order to redeem us and to reconcile us with the Christian God-the-father and that this was destined to happen since before creation. Now let us look at the doctrine of Redemption.

The narrative of Christian doctrine of redemption begins in the Garden of Eden with the fall of Adam and Eve. Here is an abbreviated version of the Roman Catholic Decree on Original sin declared at the 6th Session of the Council of Trent of 1545:

If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and was changed in body and soul for the worse, let him be anathema. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone and not his posterity, let him be anathema. If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam is taken away either by the forces of human nature, or by any remedy other than the merit of the one mediator our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema”.[10]

Whether the reader accepts the literal truth of the story of Adam and Eve is irrelevant to what follows. Indeed even the concept of original sin is not the issue I wish to address. The first point I wish to draw attention to is that according to all Christian theories of Redemption, God created humanity with the capacity to sin against Him but without the capacity to make amends for having sinned against Him. According to Christian doctrine, once humanity had sinned they were no longer fit to make amends to God precisely because they were now sinners.[11] Now of course God is our Creator and that puts beyond doubt not only that He made us capable of sin and incapable of making amends for it, but also that He knew humanity would sin because that was how He made us, as stated by Aquinas above.

In effect Christian dogma has cast God in the role of setting a trap into which he knew humanity would fall and from which he knew it would be unable to escape by its own efforts. And why did he do this evidently cruel thing? According to Christian doctrine he created this cast of helpless sinners to set the stage for the coming of a divine redeemer. The doctrine states that God-the-father created humanity in the knowledge that we would need for our salvation a divine redeemer and in the knowledge that this redeemer would be his only beloved and co-eternal God-the-son, the second divine person of the Trinity, Incarnate in the body of a man. But he knew even more than this because according to the Christian doctrine of Redemption, God-the-father, who is perfect in love and knowledge and to whom all power belongs, planned His creation in such a way as to make it inevitable that his only beloved son would be tortured and killed in the body of a man in order to redeem humanity and that this would happen only because he had made it impossible for humanity to be redeemed in any other way. The stroke of genius at the heart of this plan was that once God-the-son had been tortured and killed, God-the-father could be reconciled with those who had transgressed against Him because you can imagine what a positive impression the crucifixion of his own beloved son made upon him!

This is ridiculous. Ask yourself, why would God-the-father have devised a plan for his creation that involved the inevitability of great suffering on the part of the one he loved most (God-the-son) when he could have done otherwise? Would God-the-father, the ultimate and most loving of fathers, really demand the torture and death of his own son in order to appease his own wrath? And why would he who is perfect in love have condemned countless of his creatures to a sinful life lived out of grace with him, and do so even before they were born, when he could have done otherwise? Do Christians really believe that the combined efforts of their three divine persons could not come up with a better plan for creation than this?

The answer is of course that God would not and did not do anything of the sort and that this is nothing but pagan nonsense. The doctrine of Redemption reads like a grotesque farce and yet it is the theological foundation for the beliefs of two billion Christians. For the Christian perspective on it just keep in mind the importance that is attached to it. Without the doctrine of Redemption the Incarnation falls. If God did not make humanity a cast of helpless sinners who were unable to achieve salvation without the torture and death of a divine redeemer, then there would have been no need for a divine redeemer, and hence no possible way to make sense of an Incarnation, and hence no possible way to make sense of Jesus as anything but a man, and also no way to make sense of a Trinity of three divine persons. If the three divine persons did not cause God-the-son to be Incarnated, because it would be farcical if they did, then Christianity would be exposed as comprehensive nonsense and so they are damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.

However, although we have barely begun the story of Christian Redemption, there is yet another absurdity that needs pointing out and this one really is quite macabre. You see, the Christian triune God (i.e. father, son and spirit) was triune before creation. We can be certain of this because according to the Christian doctrine of God-the-son (also known as the Word) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (Gospel of John 1:1-3). So the co-eternal God-the-son was with God-the-father when the plan for creation was hatched and so the decision to proceed with this very bizarre plan was not God-the-father’s alone. It was a joint decision of all three persons of the triune God who occupied existence together, and so God-the-father’s co-eternal and equally divine son was involved in and equally responsible for this decision. For confirmation of this see for example the Lateran Council IV of 1215, where it is declared: “…the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, incarnate by the whole Trinity in common[12] and the Creed of the Eleventh Synod of Toledo of 675 where it states, “Also, we must believe that the entire Trinity accomplished the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the works of the Trinity are inseparable[13] and the Symbol of Faith of St. Leo IX in 1049 states, “I believe that in the Trinity the whole Godhead is….of one will”.[14]

 The reason this adds a macabre twist to an already nonsensical story is that the torture and death of the Godman Jesus Christ is understood to have been a sacrifice to God, and not only a sacrifice to God-the-father but to all three persons of the triune God. Before I follow this line of inquiry to its obvious conclusion, allow me first to establish that the torture and death of the Godman Jesus Christ has always been understood in Christianity to be a sacrifice.

To begin with, Ott confirms that: “Christ offered himself on the cross as a true and proper sacrifice” and that “The Fathers, from the very beginning, regarded Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind”.[15] Moreover, the Council of Toledo XI of 675 declared the following of the Godman Jesus Christ: “…in this form of assumed human nature, we believe that he died (as) a sacrifice for our sin[16] and in his Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology Parente confirms that: “It is a truth of faith that Christ’s death was a real and proper sacrifice”.[17] And finally the sacrificial nature of the suffering and death of the Godman Jesus Christ is stated over and over again in the New Testament.[18]

And so the bizarre and indeed macabre twist implicit in all of this is that, as Ott informs us, “Christ as man was at the same time sacrificing priest and sacrificial gift. As God, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, he was also the receiver of the sacrifice”.[19] That is to say, God-the-son sacrificed himself not only to God-the-father in order to appease his wrath. He also sacrificed himself to himself to appease his own wrath! Such is the ludicrous but unavoidable logic of Christian dogma, which they hope to conceal by dressing it up in religious robes. If this absurdity along with those already described above does not strike you as incontrovertible evidence of the invalidity of the Christian doctrine of Redemption then you are well on your way to being a Christian. As for myself, the doctrine of Redemption falls and with it falls the doctrine of Incarnation. There thus remains only one of the three doctrines identified above to be refuted. The doctrine of the Trinity.

The doctrine of the Trinity contends that God is three divine persons but that there is only one God.[20] The idea is that there is only one undivided divine essence and it is this that Christian thinkers designate as God.[21] They go on to contend that each one of the three divine persons is absolutely distinct from the other two persons while being absolutely identical with the one undivided divine essence. As Ott relates it: “In God there are three Persons…each of the three persons possesses the one (numerical) Divine Essence[22].

The question for the rationally-minded person is therefore a simple one. Do you accept the contention that three of anything can be at once absolutely distinct from one another and at the same time be absolutely identical with one and the same thing? If you do accept this contention, then you are well on your way to being a Christian. If you do not, then you are not a Christian. Christian thinkers may try as they like to defend the doctrine of the Trinity with layer upon layer of obfuscation, but the doctrine of the Trinity is an insult to reason and calling it a mystery, as Christians do, does nothing to alter that fact.

And finally it will be recalled that if the Explanation of the meaning of the Name in Part II of this website is true then the doctrine of the Trinity is false. This is so because among the most fundamental premises in the Explanation is that God is one in His Person and so if the Explanation is true then the doctrine of the Trinity is false and so too is the entire edifice of Christianity. The reader has therefore only to determine the soundness of the Explanation to be able to decisively reject Christian truth claims.

My closing comment is this; I believe that Christianity is the ultimate pagan challenge to, and foremost enemy of, true, Mosaic, monotheism, and that it is the business of every true monotheist to participate in its destruction. The above is my contribution to this undertaking.

July 11th 2021  

References and Endnotes

[1] Lasker D., Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages, The Litmann Library of Jewish Civilization, 2007.

[2] Crescas H., The Refutation of The Christian Principles, trans. Lasker D., (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992).

[3] Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma, NH: Loreto Publications, 2004, p.35, D.86.

A note on Denzinger Numbers: Denzinger’s Sources of Catholic Dogma (aka. Enchiridon) is a universally accepted and frequently quoted source-book of Catholic dogma. When the Sources is quoted you will typically be referred to what are known as Denzinger Numbers or D Numbers. The D Numbers refer to the precise passage where the quote is located in his Sources. For example, in the case of the extract quoted above, the D Number is D.86. When I quote from Denzinger’s Sources I will give the page number followed by the D Number; e.g. Denzinger, p.35, D.86.

[4] Denzinger, p.225-227, D.703-708.

[5] Aquinas, Thomas, Summa Theologica, III 1, 3. The Summa Theologica (or Theologiae) is available online at: https://www.newadvent.org/summa/

[6] Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books and Publishers Inc., 1960, p.176.

[7] Denzinger, p.35, D.86.

[8] Denzinger, P.302. D.993. 

[9] Aquinas, Summa III, 1, 3.

[10] Denzinger, p.246-247, D.788 – 790.

[11] Ott, Fundamentals, p.178, where he quotes from the Council of Trent of 1545 as follows: “since all men had lost their innocence in Adam’s sin, being made unclean and by nature children of wrath, they were servants of sin and under the power of the devil and death to such an extent that neither the Gentiles by the power of nature nor the Jews through the letter of the Mosiac Law could liberate themselves or rise from it” (Denzinger, p.249, D.793).

[12] Denzinger, p.169, D.429.

[13] Denzinger, p.110, D.284.

[14] Denzinger, p.140, D.343.

[15] Ott, Fundamentals, p.184.

[16]  Denzinger, p.111, D.286.

[17] Parente P., Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Sacrifice of Christ, (Christian Classics, 1951) p.250. 

[18] Here is a selection of New Testament passages that refer to the death of Jesus as a sacrifice made on behalf of humanity and of his death as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

Ephesians 5:2 – “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”. (NRSV)

John 1:29 – “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (NRSV)

1John 2:2 – “and he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world

1John 4:10 – “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins”.

Romans 3:24- 25 – “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood”.

1Corinthians 5:7 – “For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed”.

Mathew 20:28 (Par. Mark 10:45) – “The son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

1 Peter 1:18-19 – “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors…with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish”. 

[19] Ott, Fundamentals, p.185

[20] See e.g. The Athanasian Creed, available at:

https://www.ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html

[21] See e.g. Aquinas, Summa I, 13, 8, available at:

https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1013.htm#article8

where in Article 8, Reply to Objection 2 Aquinas says, “Thus the name “God” signifies the Divine nature”. Note that in Christian theology ‘nature’ and ‘substance’ are synonymous with ‘essence’, which is no doubt to make Christian theology as obscure and indecipherable as possible, the better to confuse unwelcome scrutineers. The word ‘nature’ is especially used where obscurity and confusion is the aim. However, confirmation that they are indeed synonymous is to be found in the Lateran Council IV of 1215 where it is written: “Firmly we believe….that the true God is…three persons but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple” (Denzinger, p.169, D.428).

[22] Ott, Fundamentals, p.52.