OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.

Jesus is not God Almighty

In private emails between Peter and myself, the subject of the divinity of Jesus came up. I suggested that it would be a good idea to publish a post summarising our exchange and inviting further discussion. Firstly I have written up the points I originally made, in a slightly expanded form. Next I have printed the issues/objections raised by Peter in response to this, with my replies. I welcome anyone who wants to ‘have a go’ and join in the fun.

The divinity of the Son.

It seems to me that when Jesus referred to himself as possessing ‘divinity’ it was invariably in terms of the indwelling Father, not the incarnate ‘God the Son’. He never speaks of ‘the Son that dwells in me’. Instead, Jesus was indwelt by his God in the same way the ark of the covenant was. In John 17:3, Jesus clearly sets himself in contrast to ‘the only one who is truly God’, the Father (see also John 5:44).

Furthermore, where the title ‘god’ is applied to Jesus by others, it harmonises far better with the Hebrew Bible to read it in terms of a functional equality, as opposed to an identity of substance. Moses was made a god to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) because he acted as Yahweh’s stand-in for his dealings with Egypt. In the same way, Paul describer the Satan as ‘the god of this age’ in that he occupies the dominion, usurped from Adam, that the Son will enjoy in the age to come.

Of course, the distinction between ‘small-g’ and ‘big-G’ in our English translations is artificial, since there was none in the original Hebrew or Greek manuscripts.

Jesus functions as God towards humanity in that he did and spoke of himself as doing things which up to that point only God was thought of as doing (the general resurrection and judgment, the forgiveness of sin etc.)

Yet for all this, I would insist that there is no evidence that the apostles ever deviated form the strict unitary monotheism of the Jewish fathers. There is still only one Creator God, the Father, in spite of the addition of a vice-regent, Jesus, God’s agent through whom he interacts with man. Surely it is significant that the only clearly articulated ‘incarnation’ theology in the New Testament is found in the mouths of mistaken pagans (Acts 14:10). According to 1Tim 2:5, God is one and his Son is a man (wouldn’t this have been the perfect place to introduce the ‘god-man’?). 

To hold a concept of Jesus as being ‘god’ in a ‘homoussian’ sense (being of the same substance as God the Father- a Greek term not found anywhere in the Bible) has a double effect:

Firstly it divides the godhead, violating what according to Jesus was the first and greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-30). This is borne out in the contradictory Athanasian creed that ‘the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God, yet there are not three Gods, but one’.

Secondly, it eclipses Jesus’ humanity- an aspect upon which the most heavy scriptural emphasis is laid. Evidence of this is found in the Chalcedonian declaration that the Son possessed an ‘impersonal’ human nature. That he is ‘man’, but not ‘a man’. Read in the light of 1 John 4:3 this should cause alarm bells to ring.

What about the holy spirit?

In the development of patristic thought, the spirit didn’t become a person in the godhead until long after the Son. Strictly speaking, the spirit of God would appear to be his operational presence, as opposed to another person in the godhead.  It is God’s dynamic, reaching into the world to create, inspire, work miracles etc.

Furthermore, it would seem to connote the ‘inner life’ of God, often being used synonymously with his thought and by extension, his expressed word. Of course, the same could be said of our human spirits. They too can be vexed, grieved etc. without being another person ‘subsisting’ within our ‘essence’.

It may even be that ‘spirit’ is not an ontological category at all but instead, a metaphor. The literal meaning of the words ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek are in both cases ‘wind/breath’. This has been obscured by their transliteration into English from the Latin ‘spiritus’ as opposed to straight translation. So ‘spirit’ may not be anything in and of itself, but rather a term, acting as a stand in for various functions.

Some confusion has arisen due to Jesus’ personification of the spirit in the later chapters of John, as the ‘paraclete’ who would take over his role subsequent to his ascension. But this is standard Hebraism. One of the best examples would be Solomon’s personification of ‘lady wisdom’ in Proverbs chapter 8. James Dunn’s excellent ‘Christology in the making’ offers many examples from the Judaism of Jesus’ day of the widespread use of this device in relation to God’s attributes.

Even today we would say of a ship, “God bless her and all who sail in her”. But, though we often personalise inanimate objects, we would never refer to a person as an ‘it’ unless we wanted to insult them. Yet throughout both Testaments, God’s spirit is referred to in almost exclusively impersonal terms.

What follows are Peter’s comments and my responses:

  • How does the death of Jesus find meaning within this framework?

The highest expression of God’s love for us is the giving of his Son (John 3:16). The Son’s love for the Father is shown in his obedient offering of himself  (John 14:31). None of this is obscured by attributing full humanity to Jesus and full divinity to the Father. Jesus’ blood is still the ransom demanded and provided by God for our sins.

  • What distinguishes Jesus from other people, if he is just one in whom the spirit of the Father is operating? Most of the figures in the bible could claim that.
 The differences are several. The Son is the cornerstone of the Father’s purpose and motive for his entire creation. As such, his calling is unique. In the counsels of God he alone was chosen from the beginning to be God’s solution to sin, the expression of his mercy and plenipotentiary sovereign of the created order. Furthermore, his unparalleled obedience to this calling further distinguishes him. At immense cost to himself, he set aside his own pride, self-will and every right due to him, making room for the Father to perform his work through him. 

Yet the scriptures lay great emphasis upon the fact that this does not exempt him from the weaknesses and temptations experienced by the rest of us. In this way he is both a credible role model and merciful high priest in that he can fully relate to our sufferings and limitations. By contrast, God cannot be tempted with sin (James 1:13 and Hebrews 4:15). To make the Son into God seriously undermines both God’s holiness and the genuine human experience of Christ.

Your observation that many of the figures of the Bible could also claim to have God’s spirit operating through them is absolutely true. This is consistent with the fact that the Son of God is revealed to us in comparison to them. Another Moses, but with greater authority. Another David, with a permanent throne. Another Adam, succeeding where he failed and winning back what he lost.

Why would the supremacy of the Son need to be revealed to us by means such as these, if he was God Almighty? It would be enough simply to state it clearly, and leave the issue alone.

  • What about the impact of this on the depth of the atonement, in that it isn’t God on the cross taking the suffering on himself;

God, who loves perfectly, had to endure watching the agonies of his Son, the most worthy object of his love. Surely there is no question of the degree to which God suffered. The fact that the Son suffered too, as someone other than God, does nothing to detract from this.

  • That someone other than God is able to atone for sin or find release from its consequences.

Where does the Bible teach us that God would die for our sins? God is immortal and cannot die (1 Timothy 1:17, Luke 20:36). In contrast, Jesus was only made immortal subsequent to his resurrection.

God atoned for our sins by providing a sacrifice, not by being one. In the Old Testament he provided blood for temporary atonement. In the New Testament he provides his Son for a permanent sin offering once and for all.

As he gave his life, Jesus cried out from the cross “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’. Therefore, whoever was left on the cross from that point on cannot have been God. If Jesus’ personal centre was indeed ‘divine’, then this abandonment would have left nothing but an empty shell to die. Incarnation theology is forever crossing the line into docetism.

  • That in this framework, sin is not seen as such a great problem to be overcome (That all that is required is a bit more effort and trying harder at the rules!)

Anyone who has struggled with sin knows only too well how great a problem it is. This experience is universal, irrespective of Christology.

Yet, to the extent that our view of sanctification is a product of our Christology, it could reasonably be said that a message that sin could only be overcome by God in the form of a man is remote and irrelevant. None of us has the advantage of a personal existence in eternity prior to our birth.

Instead, Jesus’ achievement and sacrifice are all the more remarkable by virtue of his human limitations. He is the uniquely normal man, the living example of a spiritually mature humanity which will be the standard of the age to come.

So, far from minimising the problem of sin, his example is more inspiring, given his success in spite of the absence of any hidden advantage.

  • That very often folk who do not subscribe to Jesus’ divinity lack personal experience of God in their own lives.

This is your observation. But does the Bible encourage us to evaluate truth in these terms? Wouldn’t a faith based on ‘personal, experiential knowledge of the divine’ be more akin to gnosticism than New Testament Christianity? Where in the Bible does anyone ‘invite Jesus into their heart’ etc.? Powerful experiences are a feature of all mystical religions, yet we would not establish their veracity on that basis alone.

The faith-experience of the apostles seems rather to be the result of their persuasion concerning God’s promise. It gave them hope, and hope gave rise to joy.

For now, Paul tells us, we see through a glass darkly. Only ‘then’, in the age to come can we look forward to seeing God face to face, as so far only Adam, Moses and Jesus have. To seek more than this, if it entails going beyond the confines of scripture, is to tread a dangerous path towards the occult. www.Godfellas.org
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Comments

cause for celebration

Theocrat,
I have no philosophical or theological comments to make. I would just like to say that I found the clarity and precision of your argument inspiring. In your thoughts I find a new hope of personal peace of mind and reconciliation of years of doubt and dissillusionment, thank you.

I was reading about laser eye treatment earlier but that miracle of modern medicine, which I cannot afford, has much less to offer me than your thoughts do, bringing so much of my own thinking into focus.

This follows hearing a sermon recently by a well seasoned methodist local preacher, where I was able to feel God’s presence while in a church for the first time in years. I do not think the preacher in question would share your interpretations but I do as, I believe, did much of the very early church.

Having read your words I think I can now put more easily into words what I mean when I refer to what I call the modern ‘Cult of Jesus’. Christianity, as practised in so many of today’s churches seems to have taken a step too far sideways from the position you describe, to its detriment.

Jesus is God Almighty (but that's a phrase I have never used)

As I’ve been referred to in the foregoing post, I felt some kind of response was called for. The questions I was asking, around which Theocrat has constructed his response, were sketched out in a rough way without having seen how Theocrat would describe his position, but I’m happy for them to be a springboard.

My preliminary response would be something along these lines:

Although Theocrat doesn’t say so, he sees Jesus as being human in the same way as Moses, David etc were human. It’s just that Jesus was a more perfect human. There is so much evidence weighted against this conclusion that it’s hard to know where to begin.

I’ve already commented on this site at some length about Jesus’s own identification with symbols such as temple - which in its suggestion of Jesus as the locus of the presence of God goes infinitely further than placing him in a line with other O.T. figures who experienced the spirit of God coming upon them. So every time Jesus healed someone or performed any of the other miracles, there was a rewriting of the holiness laws taking place, or echoes of what had previously been done by God and God alone. Looked at from that angle, the gospels are alive with the phenomenon of Jesus being himself YHWH, Adonai, God.

This is only the synoptic view. To read John’s gospel and not see Jesus making God-claims for himself is to keep one eye closed and the other very committed indeed to some alternative explanation. I’m still waiting to hear from someone why the Pharisees picked up stones to stone Jesus if it wasn’t for this kind of blasphemous self-identification in John 8:59.

The view of Jesus as God continues throughout the epistles: to see how trinitarian language is used from very earliest times, read ‘What St Paul Really Said’/N.T.Wright. When the early church saw Jesus, they saw God, and worshipped him as such. This was not in the light of any later Greek inspired Christological formulations.

Theocrat also raises questions which have been part of previous discussions on this site. If anyone has read any of these, it will surprise no-one that I believe the core narrative of the bible to be the mystery of how a covenant-keeping God remains true to the covenant - faithful to his people - yet would deal with the sin that was at the heart of their faithlessness to him, and thereby provide the same solution for the whole world.

In this divine project, a merely human Jesus fails to plumb the depths of the seriousness of the problem. Here, the reformers had it right: all who were born of Adam were bound by Adam’s sin. This is the depth of the problem. Man could not be redeemed by the actions of any other mere man - however much he might be the summit and apex of human perfection. I have noticed consistently with religious systems which have a merely human Jesus that the problem of sin is not so central nor profound, the cross not so central, in short, their true focus is elsewhere, and the prescription for living now is: “Try harder!” When the inevitable failures come under this system for living, their response is: “You didn’t try hard enough!” In short, there is no solution offered or found for sin.

The other sense in which the death of Jesus shows the seriousness of the problem is that a merely human figure (however much the paragon of humanity) dying on the cross is one thing, but God identifying himself with the sin which brought separation from himself (2 Corinthians 5:21) shows the nature of sin in its effects, and the depths of sin in its consequences. And I have to admit that in my own view, which would not be the view of everyone on this site, other perspectives which sidestep this issue are simply playing games.

Theocrat’s final paragraph concedes as much as I had suggested - that without these realities in which to believe and find ‘the Spirit of life (that) set me free from the law of sin and death’, we do not have the personal experience of God which God had planned for us to know. It is more than persuasion - it is, as Paul puts it, the love of God poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us.

To summarise baldly, the narrative line that I would pick out here is the narrative of the presence of God; presence experienced, presence withdrawn, presence given occasionally to individuals, presence marking out a people, presence withdrawn from a people, presence restored, presence completed. (Very bald!) The apostles had more than a message of persuasion; the persuasion had an end in view: the present experience of the eschatolological Spirit - through the eschatological Jesus.

I regret that Albannach finds cause for celebration in seeing here ammunition against what he calls the Jesus cult. If his experience was of something that could be called a cult, with all that is suggested in his use of that phrase, it is regrettable that he did not encounter something more worthy of the name, which might have shaped his views in a different way.

It will also be very apparent in this post that I hold to an evangelical view of the gospel. I believe that the times call for a repackaging of the elements which accompany that view. The narrative/historical explanation seems to me to hold out distinct possibilities, and has opened up startling new insights. I am at variance with interpretations which seem to me to be losing the distinctiveness of the explanations which are not just part of the biblical story, but make it something to be proclaimed and believed - something which people would want to give their lives for, and be worth giving their lives for.

I also realise that this comment goes against the ethos of the site. I did encourage Theocrat to publish his views - so let it be said that I am doing no more than giving my own personal response and perspective. I’m sure, that like Albannach’s, there are others, and the ethos of the site is to give place to each other, which I now do.

That's the point

You make the point: To read John’s gospel and not see Jesus making God-claims for himself

But he did not, and John’s gospel comes to the Jesus story from its own developed perspective: he may not even have claimed to be the messiah. His language was of Son of Man, with its ambiguous meanings, and a son of God then would be anyone faithful. Jesus would not have made a blasphemy, and had no need as a last days prophet. The Bible is not trinitarian; nowhere is it God the son and divinity is problematic. Sinning, of course, goes on, so we are to try harder, as you put it. I’d like a bit of trying harder.

One path that does not work is trying to make Jesus the most moral person or the most significant individual, and try to “God” him from below. It never works as a kind of football league of results. God is what anyone or group finds to be of most significance, what they hope to have returned when they make their exchanges of faith. It is about how the story, if you like, shapes.

http://www.pluralist.co.uk

The gospel according to Pluralist

John’s gospel comes to the Jesus story from its own developed perspective’ - so do the other gospels. All you are saying is that you have access to some other information (which you do not disclose) which disproves this perspective.

God is what anyone or any group finds to be of most significance’ - this is a contradiction in terms: if God is no more than people’s projections of him, by definition, he ceases to be. The statement also contradicts your immediately preceding statement: if that is your definition of God, then it is precisely trying ‘to God him from below’. Find some other word or concept: ‘God’ won’t do.

The Bible is not trinitarian’ - more to the point, the bible is not monotheistic - in the sense of presenting a unitary God who lives in solitary isolation. It would be much simpler if he were, but that is not how he is presented. That is more a product of Greek philosophical thinking. There is plenty of evidence that this is not how Jews saw him, and neither Old nor New Testament present him in this way. It certainly was not how Paul saw him - but I have a feeling that Paul, like the four gospels, is excluded from your personal biblical canon.

Response to Peter

The fact that you would even question whether Jesus was human in the same way as other humans raises serious concerns. As I stated before, orthodox incarnation Christology borders on Docetism. It seems to say “He’s a man like us… except he’s the eternal God and we’re not”. It raises questions as to whether the church councils really won out over Gnosticism, or simply repackaged and assimilated it. If Jesus is human in a different way to the rest of us, where would the validity of the comparisons between him and Adam outlined below be? Where in the Bible is his humanity expressed in qualified terms?

I don't get your drift,

I don’t get your drift, Theocrat. Can you explain? What do you hold to be true about Jesus’s humanity? Is he no different from the rest of us?

Sorry, Peter

Sorry Peter. I’m still getting the hang of this posting process. I feel like a proper dundus now. Here’s the full article.

 You wrote:Although Theocrat doesn’t say so, he sees Jesus as being human in the same way as Moses, David etc were human. 

Indeed I do. The fact that you would even question whether Jesus was human in the same way as other humans raises serious concerns. As I stated before, orthodox incarnation Christology borders on Docetism. It seems to say “He’s a man like us… except he’s the eternal God and we’re not”. It raises questions as to whether the church councils really won out over Gnosticism, or simply repackaged and assimilated it. If Jesus is human in a different way to the rest of us, where would the validity of the comparisons between him and Adam outlined below be? Where in the Bible is his humanity expressed in qualified terms?

 As you point out, Jesus did identify himself with symbols such as the temple. This was also touched on in my original post. Though God dwelt in the temple, it didn’t become God, so why should the Father’s indwelling of Jesus do so? 

I’ve also covered the fact that, though Jesus functioned as God towards us, he did so as God’s ambassador, not God himself.

 

He performed his mighty works, not to prove that he was God, but like Moses in the opening verses of Exodus 4, to prove to Israel that their God had sent him. In John 11:42 he prays, like Elijah for the power to perform an attesting sign “that they [Israel] may believe that you have sent me.”

 

In Matthew 9 he forgave the sins of the paralytic man and was duly accused of blasphemy, not for claiming to be God, but for doing something which was though of as being God’s exclusive preserve. Jesus makes this explicit. In verse 6 he explains that he performs the miracle, not to prove that he is God Almighty, but in order to show that God had conferred upon a human being the authority to forgive sins.

 This is certainly how the crowds understood this in verse 8: “But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power to men.” 

Jesus’ own self-understanding of the sense in which he was an elohim (god) is revealed in John 10:34 to be functional as opposed to ontological. He chose to define himself in terms of the judges of Psalm 82 who were also called elohim by virtue of their office, not because they were divine persons.

 

This is how the apostles preached Jesus. A man distinct from God who nonetheless operates in the name, or authority of God:

 Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you. God approved of and worked through Jesus. The power was not his own. This is consistent with John who quotes him in 5:19 as saying that, although he was in a status of functional equality with the Father, he could do nothing by himself. This would be a very strange and misleading thing for a person in the Godhead to say.

Or John 14:10: “The words that I speak to you I speak not of myself, but the Father dwelling in me does the works”.

 Peter again:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Not- for he was God, but that God was with- as a being distinct from- him.

 You wrote:I’m still waiting to hear from someone why the Pharisees picked up stones to stone Jesus if it wasn’t for this kind of blasphemous self-identification in John 8:59. An accusation of blasphemy does not appear in this context. See above, where the charge is made in connection with a claim of derived authority, not inherent divinity.  I’ll prepare a separate post on this text since it can’t be adequately covered briefly. You wrote:When the early church saw Jesus, they saw God, and worshipped him as such. Where in the Bible is Jesus worshipped as God? The only word translated ‘worship’ as applied to Jesus is, in the original Greek proskuneo, the equivalent of the Hebrew shachah, meaning to bow down. Jews would often bow before their seniors, for example Jacob before Esau. Yet this is not the worship given to God alone. For that, the word lautreo is reserved. This is never used of Jesus. See also Revelation 3:9 where the baddies will proskunesosin before the saints. I can’t find a single example where people even pray to Jesus. In Acts, the apostles pray to God, referring to Jesus in the 3rd person, as someone, therefore, other than God. You wrote:A merely human Jesus fails to plumb the depths of the seriousness of the problem. The expression ‘merely human’ exposes a failure to understand the Biblical doctrine of man. Humanity should not be judged by the depths it has fallen to in Adam, but in the height and greatness of God’s design, as revealed through Christ. This comparison does much to expose the debilitating effects of sin and is what I meant by Jesus’ unique normality. Our humanity is broken and stifled. In Jesus, humanity finds its full expression.  Sin could not be taken more seriously than in John 3:16, yet it says that God gave his beloved Son, not himself. Many are the loving parents who would testify that this is the harder and more costly of the two sacrifices to make. You wrote:In short, there is no solution offered or found for sin. 

The demand that God had to come and die for our sins comes from man, not God. From philosophy, not revelation. Otherwise it would be stated in the Bible. What the Bible does tell us is that God has dealt with sin by sending his Son to be the propitiatory sin-offering. That he takes sin so seriously that he was prepared to sacrifice his own beloved Son in order to provide a solution to the problem.

 

According to Romans 5:12-21, it was by a man that sin entered into the world, therefore justification would have to come by man, another Adam. This text shows that it is Jesus’ humanity, righteousness and obedience that qualify him to be the redeemer. What’s emphasised over and again is that the Messiah be a kinsman, closely related to those whom he must redeem. Nowhere does ‘divinity’ get a mention.

 

Likewise, 1Corinthians 15:21 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead”. What follows is another comparison between Jesus and Adam. Not really a fair one if Adam is a mere man and Jesus is the Godhead incarnate.

 You wrote:Without these realities in which to believe and find ‘the Spirit of life (that) set me free from the law of sin and death’, we do not have the personal experience of God which God had planned for us to know. I was not denying a ‘personal experience’ of God for believers. I was just challenging your assertion that it can be used as a litmus test for truth. Mystics such as Hindus, Shamans and Sufists claim very intense ‘experiences of god’ during their rituals, but their beliefs, or indeed their gods, should not to be validated on that basis. Of course we experience a unique dynamic of God’s spirit through faith in the gospel message. Of course this transforming power goes far beyond what could be achieved by mere persuasion alone, independent of the divine empowerment that comes through the gospel alone. I was simply pointing out that it is through understanding and accepting God’s message to us that this spiritual revolution takes place. Personal experiences are not quantifiable, even by our own selves. Hence they are a poor plumb-line for truth. We could argue about which of us has the most joy and peace, who loves Jesus more or who takes sin the most seriously, but compared to what? Even if I glowed in the dark, you’d still need to go back to the Bible in order to see if what I believe lined up with it. You wrote:Read ‘What St Paul Really Said’/N.T.Wright. 

I don’t have access to this at the moment. What I do have is an ‘Ex Auditu’ article by him entitled ‘One Lord, One People’ in which he sets out his beliefs about Jesus’ standing in relation to Israel’s Sh’ma. I’ll do a short critique on this and post it in the next couple of days.

 In conclusion… 

In this and another couple of other posts I’ll be making I have tried to address the points you raised. I wonder if you could respond to a couple of mine. They are as follows:

 

In John 14:28 Jesus said that the Father was greater than him. Can God be greater than God? If so wouldn’t the supreme God, the Most High God, the God of the other gods (all designations for the Father) also be the only one who is truly God? If Jesus is someone other than that God, wouldn’t that exclude him from membership of the godhead, or at least relegate him to a subordinate position, even if it is found to consist of more than one person? What do you make of Jesus’ statement in John 17:3 that the Father is the monon alethinon theon?

 

Like you, I believe the cross is central to Christology, but I also think that standard Trinitarian orthodoxy is missing something important here:

When God forsook his Son, what was left on the cross? A complete man? A human body, minus the divine personal centre?

 

Was it a matter of ‘God the Son’ merely surrendering his human body and returning to the existence he enjoyed prior to being ‘incarnated’ into it?

 

Or did Jesus as a man and no more, really pour out all that he was, without remainder, trusting that he would not be left in Sheol, but that God would raise him again?

This would seem to be the faith of the Son of God which Paul refers to in Galatians 2:20. It would hardly take trust for an eternal person to go back to being what he had been for far longer than he had been a man, indeed, for eternity.

 

At the moment he cried out ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus called on his God. Is the Father therefore the God of the Son, or not? Both Peter and Paul unashamedly call him not only the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also his God (2 Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1Pet 1:3).

 

From all this it would appear that Jesus is not just someone other than the Father. He is someone other than God.

Startling claims

Fascinating discussion!

Theocrat wrote:
In John 17:3, Jesus clearly sets himself in contrast to ‘the only one who is truly God’, the Father.

I agree that grammatically Jesus differentiates himself here from ‘the only one who is truly God’. But looking at the overall implications of Jesus’ statement, I see it as a startling claim that no created being could properly make. I can’t imagine the archangel Gabriel saying: “Eternal life consists of knowing me and knowing God.”

Jesus expected his followers to love him so intensely that their love for self and others would seem like hatred in comparison (Luke 14:26). Would the one true God tolerate being eclipsed in honour by his created Son?

Jesus did not merely show people how to live (which is what a prophet would do) but he called people to devote themselves to him and to give him their ultimate allegiance (Matthew 10:39).

Jesus claimed to be the only means whereby a man can find God. A mere prophet may claim to be a signpost to God but never to be the only way (John 14:6).

Jesus claimed to be the only thing which will truly satisfy a man’s soul (John 6:35). No true prophet would make such blasphemous claims.

Jesus invited people to depend on him for peace, rest, joy, strength, and everything else needed to cope with life (Matthew 11:28, John 14:1). Could a mere creature fulfil that role?

The message of the prophets such as Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah was: “Come to God. Follow God. Obey God.” But Jesus’ message was thoroughly egocentric: “Come to me. Follow me. Obey me.”

Jesus spoke of himself and God together as “we” and “our” (John 14:23). Which creature would ever dare to that?

Theocrat wrote:
The only word translated ‘worship’ as applied to Jesus is, in the original Greek, proskuneo … Yet this is not the worship given to God alone. For that, the word lautreo is reserved. This is never used of Jesus.

What about Revelation 22:3?

Theocrat wrote:
Strictly speaking, the spirit of God would appear to be his operational presence, as opposed to another person in the godhead …
Furthermore, it would seem to connote the ‘inner life’ of God, often being used synonymously with his thought and by extension, his expressed word. Of course, the same could be said of our human spirits. They too can be vexed, grieved etc. without being another person ‘subsisting’ within our ‘essence’. It may even be that ‘spirit’ is not an ontological category at all but instead, a metaphor.

I don’t see how this view is compatible with the fact that the Holy Spirit listens to God the Father (John 16:13) and talks to God the Father (Romans 8:27).

Thou saist

You assert that the love and allegiance Jesus demands, the exclusivity of his claims and the promises of life to those who put their trust in him could only be made by him if he was God.

 

These are limitations which you place on the role of Jesus. I’m not so sure that the Bible does. Instead, as the ‘shaliach’ of the Father he has plenipotentiary power. To deal with God’s agent is to deal with God.

 

Surely this functional way of interpreting Jesus’ role is far more consistent with the sum of scripture than the ontological one, since it violates neither the oneness of God nor the complete humanity of Jesus.

What do you reckon to Revelation 22:3?

Good question. The verse mentions both God and the lamb. Yet only one is worshipped (latreusousin auto). I would suggest that, in harmony with its consistent use in every other place, it applies to God in this case as well.

 I don’t see how this view is compatible with the fact that the Holy Spirit listens to God the Father (John 16:13) and talks to God the Father (Romans 8:27). Spirit, word and wisdom were all subject to personification in Jewish literature. In Proverbs 8 ‘Lady Wisdom’ stands, cries out, has a mouth and lips, etc. She even seems to share a flat with someone called Prudence (Proverbs 8:12). 

Jesus has left behind the paraclete to continue his work while he is ‘away’, so it makes sense to employ personal language in describing the spirit by which he continues the work he did whilst personally present.

 If not, how would you account for the vast majority of cases in which the spirit is referred to impersonally?

Non-divine man left hanging

I’m following and enjoying the debate, but feel unqualified to comment on the grammatical nitty-gritty. I’d like to say that I’d agree that Jesus’ humanity needs to be just that. Just humanity. That doesn’t rule out divinity though.

The point of the cross, I think, demands further thought. Although I presuppose substitutionary atonement here, I think the atoning death and resurrection must be of the God-man Jesus, not just a man.

(I appreciate language is difficult to depict, but I hope you understand my point.)

Theocrat et al, could you comment further on what you believe is the point of a non-divine man dying on a cross?

Hanging

The only point is service and sacrifice taken to an extreme length in pursuit of a goal.

http://www.pluralist.co.uk

In pursuit of a goal

Yes - the question then being, what was the goal, and was it accomplished. We then rejoin the loop of previous posts concerning arguments and counter arguments etc.

Gulp!

Theocrat - you’ve certainly done some thinking through of your position. Thanks for your concern about whether I’m the victim of a centuries old deception! Having read your post, I’m not sure I’m feeling any more enlightened. My darkness must be deep indeed.

It’s all (or mostly) well argued. I think I’ll leave the detailed responses to others better qualified than myself. One could go on interminably selecting evidence for Jesus as a divine being, and you would come back and say no - that merely shows Jesus was a divine agent.

The heart of the matter for me is the divine project - how a covenant-keeping God remains true to his people, but deals with their unfaithfulness to him, and thereby deals with the unfaithfulness of the world (which was always Israel’s vocation).

The biblical testimony for me is overwhelming - all born of Adam participate in Adam’s sin. It would therefore require a different order of humanity to become the sin-bearer on behalf of Adam’s race. The biblical Jesus is presented as of a different order from Abraham, Moses, David etc, all of whom were flawed individuals - a characteristic they share with the rest of the human race, before and since. But this is where a trinitarian understanding illuminates the love of God, over and above a non-trinitarian explanation. (It’s also where certain versions of the ‘penal substitution’ view of the atonement come unstuck). God did not require in a retributive way a human sacrifice to atone for sin (which would have made him seem a monster - cosmic child-abuser). The love revealed on the cross was self-sacrifice: God taking on Himself through the Son the sins of the world.

In addition, it is indicative of the depths of sin’s power that only God could provide in Himself, through the Son, a solution to sin’s power. Jesus as purely (not merely) of human stock did not have this ability, unless he had himself been redeemed by some prior act of atonement. All the other questions which you raise concerning the relationship of the Son to the Father on the cross can be answered fairly simply.

You try to sidestep some of these issues by suggesting that there is, actually, a difference between Jesus and the rest of mankind - in that Jesus was the highest expression of human nature (which nobody else, before or since, has achieved). So this leads you to the contradictory phrase ‘unique normality’ to describe Jesus.

When the early church saw Jesus, they saw God. This was in the light of Jesus’s death/reurrection, ascension/outpouring of the Spirit. The most attractive way of approaching the divinity of Jesus, for me, at the moment, is the historical route: the attempt to reconstruct how 1st century Jews (and gentiles) became believers in the light of their own mindsets and world-views, based on the historical context of the 1st century.

Tom Wright in ‘What Saint Paul really said’ shows how Paul came to this position in a thoroughly Jewish way, and gives three illustrations.

The first is 1 Corinthians 8:1-6. Having asserted that God is indeed one, Paul takes the Shema, the great Jewish assertion of God’s ‘oneness’, and proceeds to portray the Father and One Lord - Jesus Christ as right at the heart of the ‘oneness’ which the Shema asserts. And the context sets this against the pagan idolatry of worshipping many gods. A Jesus, and a Father, were central to a conception of God which shared the Jewish polemic of opposing pagan polytheism with creational monotheism.

The second is Philippians 2:5-11. Verses 10-11 apply to Jesus the text from Isaiah 45:23, which in context is monotheistic. The rest of the text from Philippians shows how Paul squares the circle of saying that a God who would share his glory with no other is now apparently sharing it with Jesus. A Jesus who was fully equal with God became human, dying on a cross, was exalted and given the name LORD (ie YHWH). How did this happen? Because Jesus did what only God could do, in fulfilling the purpose of the covenant - dealing with the sins of Israel, and thereby providing deliverance for the whole world - fulfilling the vocation of Israel.

The third is Colossians 1:15-20. Wright points out the parallelism of 1-18a and 18b-20; the poem picks up the traditional scriptural theme of Israel’s God - creator of the cosmos and redeemer of Israel, but the central character of Paul’s poem is not YHWH but Jesus, or as Wright says, ‘YHWH now recognised in the face of Jesus’.

Wright also points out ‘dozens of other pieces of data’. There is Paul’s use of the phrase Son of God both in its traditional Jewish meaning and as a technical term when combined with ‘father’ implying divinity. There is the use of the word Kyrios, with its echoes of the substitute use for YHWH in the OT.

Wright goes on to do something similar for the Spirit in the next section which he does for Jesus in this section. It’s all worth repeating, but time and space forbid.

So there you are; have a go at your own interpretations of these passages! (I’m sure you will produce something!).

By the way, I’m still sticking to my interpretation of Jesus as temple as implying his divine nature. I’ve rehashed all the arguments for this in a response to Andrew, who raised similar objections. Jesus was doing far more than simply offering a human body as the receptacle for the presence of God.

More data to consider

Thank you, Theocrat, for your thought-provoking points. But I still have some hurdles to get over before I can accept that Jesus is ontologically in a lower class than God the Father.

You say Jesus is the shaliach of God the Father, and that to deal with God’s agent is to deal with God. But wouldn’t that result in Scripture speaking about either God performing a function through Jesus or Jesus performing a function on behalf of God, but not both performing the same function as equal subjects? For example, see John 14:1; John 17:3; Eph. 1:2; Eph. 5:5; 1 Thess. 3:11; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; Rev. 5:13; Rev. 6:16; et al.

Ephesians 1:2 says: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

If your view of Jesus is correct, I would expect Paul to have said:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”
or
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
or
“Grace to you and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the channel of God’s grace & peace to the world.”

Regarding Revelation 22:3, you state that only one is worshipped and you quote the Greek latreusousin auto. I don’t know Greek but I assume auto means ‘him’ (singular). Since the Lamb was the last named person, isn’t it grammatically more likely that either auto refers to the Lamb, or alternatively that God and the Lamb are ontologically one?

I accept your point that spirit, word and wisdom were all subject to personification in Jewish literature, which may explain references to the Holy Spirit being grieved or making a decision. But I don’t think that explanation holds water in the case of John 16:13 or Romans 8:27 where the Holy Spirit is distinguished from God the Father. I can understand the concept of a lady called Wisdom standing on a street corner preaching to passers-by, but I can’t understand the concept of a personification of God’s power/energy speaking to God himself as in Romans 8:27, or vice versa as in John 16:13.

There are also several Scriptures in which the Holy Spirit is distinguished from the power of God. But if the Holy Spirit is only a name of God’s influences and energies upon the souls of men, then it would be substantially correct to use the general word ‘power’ to represent the idea of the Holy Spirit. But this would lead to the following farcical conclusions:

And Jesus returned in the power of the power to Galilee. Luke 4:14

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the power and with power. Acts 10:38

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the power you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

… by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the power of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ. Romans 15:18-19

My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the power and of power. 1 Corinthians 2:4

I am sorry I was not able to consider your final question about how I would account for the vast majority of cases in which the spirit is referred to impersonally. I am not sure which places you are referring to. Could you give some examples please? Thanks.

Soon come

Peter, Phil and Mars Hill (Can I just call you Mars?)

I’ll respond to your most recent messages shortly. In the meantime, I have finished and posted the comments I referred to above, on the Christology set out by NT Wright in his article ‘One Lord, One People.

This should interest you all since it has direct bearing on many of the points already discussed in our exchanges.

martian landscapes

Thanks theocrat,

Most people call me “hey you” or “teacher”, so any recognisable abbreviation is fine.

Hey, you!

Teacher

I’m sure both Peter and I also presuppose substitutionary atonement. The point to it all for me would be God demonstrating his love and grace and ransoming man from sin. The ways in which he does this through the cross are many. What follows below is by no means an exhaustive list:

Abraham demonstrated his love by the sacrifice, not of himself but his son. This is a prefigure of the love of God demonstrated in the giving of his own Son. It is impossible to avoid the parallel between John 3:16 and the binding of Isaac. It is surely significant that in these and other places, God is presented in the role of Abraham, not Isaac.

God shows how seriously he takes sin by the price he is prepared to pay to ransom us from it. He also shows how much he loves us by his willingness to go to such extreme ends in order to achieve our salvation.

The point of Calvary is also to set forth Jesus as the ultimate role-model. The highest example of faith and sacrificial self-denial. He faced all the challenges we face, and more, was subject to all our limitations, yet overcame.

The cross is also prelude to the resurrection. Jesus is a first-fruit of the general resurrection. Death was the result of sin and the emblem of mankind’s exile from God. By raising his Son from the dead and giving him immortality, God vindicated Jesus’ message, Sonship and claim to be the source of the life of the age to come.

It is also a message to the world. Crucifixion was Rome’s way of showing the terrible consequences of going against her system. The resurrection is God’s way of showing that after the princes of this age have done their worst, there is a hope beyond the grave for those who remain faithful to him which no power in heaven or earth can deny us.

Old chestnut

Peter

One could go on interminably selecting evidence for Jesus as a divine being, and you would come back and say no - that merely shows Jesus was a divine agent.

In stating this you seem to acknowledge that there is Biblical support for my interpretation of Jesus’ role.

 

You choose one way based on the fact that, according to you, only God could die for our sins. You have yet to show me where the Bible says this.

 

I base mine on the conviction that three is not one, that a being is either mortal or immortal, able to be tempted or not, all powerful and all knowing or limited, and that Jesus and God are separated by these two categories.

 

The biblical testimony for me is overwhelming - all born of Adam participate in Adam’s sin.

 

Could you please give me some examples of texts which clearly substantiate this. Isn’t it sinning that makes us sinners? Surely all that Jesus would need in order to be sinless is not to sin. That being the case he would have no need for atonement.

 In addition, it is indicative of the depths of sin’s power that only God could provide in Himself, through the Son, a solution to sin’s power. 

I wonder- Is it a prerequisite of the gospel that we make sin out to be as powerful as we possibly can? Surely the problem with sin presented by the scriptures is that it’s an outrage to God and has had such devastating effects on the entire created order. Isn’t that enough? Does it also have to bring the wrath of God down on someone who hasn’t done anything wrong yet?

 All the other questions which you raise concerning the relationship of the Son to the Father on the cross can be answered fairly simply.

I wonder, could I press you further to actually do this? How could God forsake God, yet still be one God? How can the immortal God die? Would he not then cease to be immortal?

 …this leads you to the contradictory phrase ‘unique normality’ to describe Jesus. 

I was actually quoting from JAT Robinson in ‘the human face of God’, where he makes some points very similar to those I have set out in this discussion. The word normal is not used in the sense of common or everyday, but rather normative with God’s standard for mankind and prefigurative of the humanity of the age to come. It is by virtue of the rest of us sinning and coming short of it that Jesus is unique by comparison.

 Link between Philippians 2:5-11. and Isaiah 45:23. 

In honouring and submitting to God’s man, God is honoured and served. When the people heard and followed Moses they heard and followed Yahweh. So too David and other godly leaders. Consider the following striking example:

 

And David said to all the congregation, Now bless Yahweh your God. And all the congregation blessed Yahweh God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Yahweh, and the king” (I Chronicles 29:20).

 

See also my post to Phil, below, on this point.

 Colossians 1:15-20. 

The ‘all things’ created through Jesus are specified in the immediate context. Not the heavens and earth of the Genesis creation, but thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers that are in the present heavens and earth. These all describe positions of governmental authority. This text says much the same thing as Ephesians 1:20-23.

 

Yahweh had no intermediary in the Genesis creation, for he says “I am Yahweh that makes all things; that stretches out the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24)

 There is the use of the word Kyrios, with its echoes of the substitute use for YHWH in the OT.

I refer to my comments on this in my critique of NT Wright’s ‘One Lord, One People’.

 There is Paul’s use of the phrase Son of God both in its traditional Jewish meaning and as a technical term when combined with ‘father’ implying divinity. 

The Bible presents us with God the Father and Jesus the Son of God. The title Father describes God. The title Son describes a man’s relationship to God.

 

Though the creeds employ the title ‘God the Son’, this is found nowhere in the Bible. Neither is the equivalent ‘The Father of God’, though the Roman church is rigorous enough in its incarnation theology to describe Mary as the ‘Mother of God’. These phrases would indeed attribute divinity to the Son.

 

To quote Colin Brown as I did at the end of my  ‘Before Abraham was…’ article:

Indeed, to be a ‘Son of God’ one has to be a being who is not God!”

 

More on this as well in my message to Phil below.

Impersonal spirit

Not yet persuaded ... but please keep trying!

Hi Theocrat

Many thanks for stimulating parts of my mind that other interlocutors do not normally reach! I cannot fault most of what you say but I still feel your estimation of Jesus is less than he deserves. I shall continue mulling over your latest comments and will respond to them later if anything occurs to me, but meanwhile I would like to throw a few more counter-arguments at you to see if I can find a chink somewhere in your armour!

(1) Colin Brown wrote: “Indeed, to be a ‘Son of God’ one has to be a being who is not God!”
But I would say that by the same argument the title “Son of Man” implies Jesus is not man. So why don’t you draw that conclusion?

(2) You stated in your opening post that Jesus “… is the uniquely normal man, the living example of a spiritually mature humanity which will be the standard of the age to come. So, far from minimising the problem of sin, his example is more inspiring, given his success in spite of the absence of any hidden advantage.”

However, Jesus himself spoke of his pre-incarnational existence in heaven, sharing glory with his Father. Therefore, even though you regard Jesus as less than God, surely even you would have to admit that he was not a normal human being in the same category as the rest of us but was rather a spiritual/heavenly/angelic being who was incarnated as a man.

(3) John 14:1 says “You believe in God. Believe also in me” (or “Believe in God. Believe also in me”). If Jesus were merely God’s vice-regent (or his malak who represented God fully and transacted business in his name), then wouldn’t Jesus have said:

Believe in me, because by so doing you will effectively be believing in God.”

or

Believe in God, which you can accomplish in practice by believing in me.”

However, Jesus’ words in John 14:1 tend to suggest two distinct objects of faith.

(4) Romans 8:27 speaks of the Spirit interceding to God on behalf of people. Does that not imply at least two centres of consciousness within the godhead? I would never think of my own spirit interceding to me.

(5) You wrote: “Apart from ‘comforter’, the figures used to describe the spirit are predominantly impersonal, fire, oil, water etc. As I wrote above, the word itself means wind.”

I would reply: Many of the figures used to describe Jesus are also impersonal (bread, light, door, bronze statue of a serpent, etc.) but I do not therefore doubt Jesus’ personality.

(6) Whether the Spirit of God is personal or impersonal, would a creaturely vice-regent of God have the audacity to send the Spirit of God? John 16:7

(7) And would a creaturely vice-regent of God choose who acquires a relationship with God? The context of Matthew 11:27 implies it is Jesus’ choice distinct from (albeit in harmony with) that of the Father.

(8) Does our different theology about Jesus actually make any difference in practice? We view him differently but do we really treat him any differently? Have you given Jesus your ultimate allegiance? Do you depend on Jesus for peace, rest, joy, strength, and everything else you need to cope with life? Do you esteem Jesus as highly as you esteem God? Do you submit to Jesus’ lordship unquestioningly (even though in your opinion he is not incapable of error)? If it came to the crunch, would you die for Jesus’ sake (he who is only a creature in your opinion)? Matthew 10:39; Luke 9:23-24; Matthew 11:28; John 14:1; John 5:23; John 15:4-5

Regards … Phil

Hot chestnuts

One could go on interminably . . .”

No, this does not imply I acknowledge biblical support for your position. It just implies one could go on interminably, as this conversation seems to be doing!

The biblical testimony is overwhelming . . .”

Actually, I find your comment in response to mine quite naive. If it is purely ‘sinning’ that makes us ‘sinners’, and all Jesus needed to do was to stop ‘sinning’, then our redemption can be simply by-passed: just don’t sin! (Unless there is a hidden significance attached to your presentation of Jesus: he was the only one who could stop ‘sinning’). I take Romans 3:9-18 and Romans 5:12-18 as paradigmatic: sin is universal, and death, its consequence, is universal. This is paradigmatic for the bible - which relentlessly exposes sin in all its heroes. I take it from this that sin is both a choice and a condition. Paul’s exposition of the remedy is that the solution lies in a death (and a rebirth). Jesus died on the cross as the representative of the last Adam. He rose from the dead as the representative of the new humanity. Our participation in this new humanity depends on a death, not a choice.

I wonder- Is it a prerequisite of the gospel that we make sin out to be as powerful as we possibly can?”

No - it’s a reasonable inference from our experience and from the observation that God provided the sacrifice through himself in the form of His Son that sin is indeed something profoundly rooted in our human Adamic identity.

All the other questions which you raise concerning the relationship of the Son to the Father on the cross can be answered fairly simply.

I wonder, could I press you further to actually do this? How could God forsake God, yet still be one God? How can the immortal God die? Would he not then cease to be immortal?”

Yes, but not on this thread, as it entails more space and time than is available to me.

Unique normality”

Apart from JAT Robinson, where in the bible are any of the concepts you propose in this paragraph substantiated?

” ‘And David said to all the congregation, Now bless Yahweh your God. And all the congregation blessed Yahweh God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Yahweh, and the king’ (I Chronicles 29:20).”

Very interesting - and I need to do further study on this - but it comes nowhere near the divine identification of Jesus in Philippians 2:10-11.

In the verse you quote, the obeisance and prostration are made before God and king, but it’s one form of obeisance to God, and another to the king - I don’t think anyone is suggesting this is worship of the king as divine! In Philippians 2:10-11, there is no room for such a separation: especially in the light of the rest of the passage.

The ‘all things’ created through Jesus are specified in the immediate context. Not the heavens and earth of the Genesis creation, but thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers that are in the present heavens and earth”

Really? Where did you get the authority to make this distinction? Were there two acts of creation in which the heavens and earth of Genesis preceded an act of creation of heavens and earth by Jesus?

Yahweh had no intermediary in the Genesis creation, for he says ‘I am Yahweh that makes all things; that stretches out the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by myself’ (Isaiah 44:24)”

Exactly - Jesus was YHWH - as part of his being. There was no intermediary.

Kyrios”

Claiming a privileged definition of the word based on earlier texts over and above the way the word is actually used in the NT is special pleading.

The Bible presents us with God the Father and Jesus the Son of God. The title Father describes God. The title Son describes a man’s relationship to God.”

This needs a separate thread - in which the augmented significance of phrases like ‘Son of God’ in the NT can be brought out. In the meantime, ponder on John 19:7. To claim to be ‘Son of God’ is not a
capital offence, in the traditional use of the term.

You also need to answer the criticisms I made of your interpretation of John 8 in the ‘I am …’ post.

In the meantime, take a look at Hebrews 1:6, 8, 10. Any comments?

a slightly different approach offered

I have been reading your comments and explanations with great interest. Actually, the questioin of the Trinity has been occupying my mind for several years. First of all I would like to ask Theokrat and Peter the following question: Is the question about Jesus being God or not a question of salvation like it used to be in the historical church; or are you open to accept each others as part of the same mystical body of Christ? Secondly I would like to challenge both your view, Theokrat and yours, Peter. In your discussions you seem to try to show if Jesus is God himself or ‘purely’ (even though as you well noted this should not imply ‘only’) a man. One of these two.

What I want to suggest,though, is not to ask questions that didn’t seem to be asked in hebrew and 1 st century times. In the OT, and correct me if I am wrong, there was never a discussion going on or a statement being made if the messiah, or the Christ, or the ‘son of man’ in Daniel would be of the same essence than God or not. Apparently it was enough that he would be the ‘Christ’. Consequently in the NT in my opinion there was never the ‘ontological’ question raised. Obviousely the greek mind in the 3 rd and 4 th century felt the need to raise and answer this question - which brought about persecution and killing of Christ believing people.

But obviousely in the NT this question was not brought up. Why is it not enough for us to say that Jesus is the son of God; that he is the Christ, that he is the saviour?… Why do we so badly have to decide which exact nature he is of?

Another observation I want to make. If you read the Bible and while you do that try not to be too much concerned with philisophical constructs like the Trinity etc; it comes so naturally to understand most references (of course there are some few exceptions) of God as referring to the Father. As an example take most of Paul’s introductions to his letters. Just as one example out of many: Paul an apostle sent not from men nor by man - but by Jesus Christ and God the Father…. (Galatians 1.1); ‘Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God’ (Ephesians 1,1)…. Here and in so many other verses it would just be artificial (i am not suggesting it is impossible) to assume the doctrine of the Trinity. Always and always again there is Jesus and there is also God (meaning the Father)and in Ephesians 1,1 with ‘by the will of God’ no one really should think of Jesus being ment here. Another observation I have made is that today many Christians take the doctrine of the Trinity (and not the stories of the Bible!) as a foundation of their expressions of faith. In theological seminary, for example, one teacher said: since we believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, why should we not pray to the spirit? Let’s pray to him… I am not saying God has a problem when we pray to the Spirit; but what I am suggesting is that a greek model of ‘how God works’ should not be the center of our faith.

Going back to the nature of Christ. I suggest to call his nature ’ son of God’ or ‘Christ’. Why, on earth, (or in heaven) should there only be two natures plus angels available? In my understanding both of your views; Theokrat and Peter; are disproved with Hebrews chapter 1 through 3. I mean if Jesus was God himself - why spending 3 chapters discussions about why is Jesus greater than Moses and Angels etc. I mean if Jesus is God himself it would be enouugh to say Jeus is God fullstop. Everybody knows that God is greater than the angels - you don’t have to explain that one. In the same time, if Jesus was merely man - it is enough to say that, too. But since Jesus is Christ and the son of God - the writer of Hebrews is actually taking its time to properly place Jesus in the heavenly realm. This is very much noteworthy.

The most interesting verse in those texts I find: Hebrews Chapter 1, 9: …therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy’. This is one example that Jesus is of its own kind. Saying Jesus was the Almighty God just doesn’t work here (and elsewhere). How can the Almighty God have a God above?

At the same time, Theokrat, it should become clear through Hebrews that Jesus is of a different kind than ‘purely’ man. Also Ephesians 1,1 as quoted above should confirm that.

Something else I want to comment on, Theokrat. In one of your posts you have stated that you do not know of any verses in the NT where humans prayed to Jesus. Well here are some:

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’. (Acts 7,59)

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10.13) that Jesus is ment here should become clear in verse 14 and 15. And last but not least; the second - to - last verse in the Bible: ‘come, Lord Jesus’.

To the question raised whether a mere human being can bring about salvation, or whether it should be God himself. You suggest, Theokrat, that God himslef is not needed for this job. And you, Peter, doubt that the job can be done just by some human that happens to not sin. what about a savior that belongs to neither of those categories fully or exclusively; but belongs to the kind: ‘the son of God’?

looking forward to your reply!

A different approach considered

Tnank you paulchen for your thoughtful and eirenic comments. They probably need more attention than I have been able to give them so far.

I agree that when we look back from at least a 3rd or 4th century onwards point of view, we begin to apply frameworks for discussion about the nature of Jesus which were not the ones used in the 1st century. Nevertheless, that does not invalidate them.

From a 1st century point of view, which I take to be largely the developed Jewish point of view as seen in people like Paul, there is, to my mind, overwhelming evidence for a Jesus who was part of the godhead. It’s just that the nature of the discussion is different from post-1st century definitions.

In the 1st century, the issue seemed to be not so much definition of God’s nature, but how God fulfilled his purposes, and how this made an impact on the world. It was the direction of the argument which was all important. Within that direction, Jesus was being described through the symbols of the language of Judaism, which were the same symbols and language that had previously been used of YHWH. I would point again to the passages which have already been used on this thread - such as John 8; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20, and also to evidence within the gospels themselves - other than John 8.

I would also point out that Theocrat has already conceded a great deal about Jesus which to my mind puts him on the road to divinity: he was pre-existent; he created, if not heavens and earth, things in heaven and earth; he was sinless; he was worshipped.

The references in Hebrews 1 simply set out the position for a divine Jesus; the subsequent chapters are pursuing in detail the ministry of Jesus.

Even in the NT there is an incipient trinitarianism in some of the formulations - eg Matthew 28:19, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Peter 1:2.

But there are greater reasons for holding to a divine role of Jesus, whether we adopt the earlier Jewish approach or the later Greek trinitarian formulations.

Without a divine Jesus, there can be no outpouring of the divine Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and no people of God experiencing what is basic to the new covenant: the universal and continuous indwelling life of the Spirit. A mere man elevated to the heavens has no authority to dispense this divine gift.

And back-tracking from this: without a divine Jesus, the significance of the crucifixion is lost. We are left with an angry God seeking retribution, and taking it out on an innocent person. (Except, as Paul makes clear in Romans, there are no innocent people born of Adam).

Much as your intervention is attractive, it won’t work without undercutting issues basic to the Christian faith.

This does not mean that Theocrat and I cannot respect each other, and listen to each other’s viewpoint. I have to say that Theocrat comes across as a highly gracious and courteous person, and his scholarship is in a league beyond mine. There is a refreshing humility in his approach. It has already been a pleasure to spend time in his company - more of a pleasure than with some people who hold the same views as myself. I sometimes wonder if the difference between us more one of the use of words than reality, but I haven’t got to that point yet.

Setting the record straight

Paulchen and Peter

Haven’t got time just now, but I would like to set something straight. Although I believe in the pre-existence of Jesus, I do so in a very qualified way. Likewise, as I set out earlier, the worship (prostration) given to him.

I would contend that he existed before his conception not as a personal spirit or god-being, but as an idea in the mind of God.

With a view to Colossians 1:16, creating a position of authority (Which Jesus will do for the saints in the kingdom of God) can be a monarchical prerogative. It does not necessiate divinity.

I will clarify this in my next set of posts, though it may be a little while before I send them off since I’ll be out of the country later this week.

I would also like to say, Peter, that I very much appreciate your words about our exchanges. It goes without saying that the feeling, as indeed the brotherly respect, is mutual.

Confused

If “by him (Jesus) all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” - Colossians 1:16, when and how could this have happened if Jesus did not pre-exist his earthly life? How could this have happened if Jesus was only an idea in the mind of God before his birth? (I also don’t understand how Jesus can be any less than a creator in the light of this statement - but I’ve already made that observation).

I’ll look forward to the explanation in future posts - though I am wondering where this conversation is going!

different approach qualified

Dear Peter,
thank you very much for your reply and for your thoughtful notes. I am glad to hear from you and Theokrat how you affirm each other in personal terms. I hope it is ok for you both that I have come into your correspondence. Also, since I am not a native english speaker excuse my imperfect english at times.

I am not sure whether I have made myslef very well understood and I would like to respond to your reply passage by passage.

I agree that when we look back from at least a 3rd or 4th century onwards point of view, we begin to apply frameworks for discussion about the nature of Jesus which were not the ones used in the 1st century. Nevertheless, that does not invalidate them.’

I do agree with you here that every culture must answer the questions raised in teir own culture. so we today in the 21 st century (and that is what emerging church is all about, isn’t it?)have to do that, and therefore also the christians in the 3 rd and 4 th century. Maybe this is based on my rather protestant tradition as opposed to catholic and especially the conciliearen orthodox church which I by the way still highly value. Anyway, I do not consider church councils as of the same importance as the biblical texts. I do not suggest of what you have written that you are holding such a view ( I don’t know), but just that you know where I am coming from.

From a 1st century point of view, which I take to be largely the developed Jewish point of view as seen in people like Paul, there is, to my mind, overwhelming evidence for a Jesus who was part of the godhead. It’s just that the nature of the discussion is different from post-1st century definitions.’

In principle I do not disagree that Jesus is part of the Godhead. Going back to the term that Jesus repeatedly attributes to himself, son of God, implies that Jesus is from the ‘same essence’ if you want so, as his father. This is what this title intrinsically implies. It also implies, and this is where we might differ, that Jesus is not God himself, but his son. But therefore still divine. In my eyes this is very, very biblical.

Within that direction, Jesus was being described through the symbols of the language of Judaism, which were the same symbols and language that had previously been used of YHWH

I agree with you here that Jesus in the new testament sometimes takes the place of YHWH of the Old Testament. Im my mind this is due the very close relationship of the divine son and his father. they are so, so close. both are divine and are prayed to. However, common trinitarian thinking (i say ‘common trinitarian’, since I also consider myslef as being a trinitarian - but more to that maybe later)doesn’t help this line of thought either since as commonly suggested with YHWH in the OT God the father was ment and since ‘God the son’ is not the same person within the Godhead the interchange of persons in the Godhead doesn’t work either.

’ I would point again to the passages which have already been used on this thread - such as John 8; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20, and also to evidence within the gospels themselves - other than John 8.’

it is hard for me to give a general answer to all of this references; this is why I would like to go throght them step by step.

John 8 - I am not sure what of John 8 supports your view. Maybe you can be more specific. But here are some remarks to John 8. in John 8,17 and 18 Jesus says the testimony (according to the Jew’s law) of ‘two men’ are sufficient. And then Jesus points out that since there is the testimony of the Father and of his are two (not one!) this law is ‘fullfilled’. so Jesus sees himself and the father as being two entities, not one.
Further, John 8,29 is very remarkable. the reason given why God the Father is with Jesus (which in itself is another indication that the two are not equal) is ‘for I always do the things that are pleasing to him’ does not very much support common trinitarian understanding. the reason why God the Father is with Jesus should be much more something like because Jesus is intrinsicially God and therefore God is with him, and not because Jesus is obidient to God.
John 8,54 is very difficult to explain if you hold common trinitarian views. that Jesus does not want to take glory but that the glory should only go to God or the father shows that he places himself outside of ‘the one and only’ God. If Jesus is God, why should it be invalid if he glorified himself? this only makes sense if he isn’t ‘the God’.
with the last verses that Jesus was before Abraham, I do not have a problem with. That the son of God pre existed I do not question.
Now to 1. Corinthians 8,6 I couldn’t say it better: there is one God which is the Father and there is our Lord Jesus Christ different to the one God. I don’t know how more clear my point could be expressed than in this verse! And it says here that Jesus is the means which God created things. I honestly don’t know where trinitarian thoughts could be found in this.
Now to Philippians 2, 6 to 11. I honestly want to say that those verses are the strongest I can find to support trinitarian views. However let me try to explain how those verses I understand (and this is only a try)and if Theokrat is back from his trip outside the country I would appreciate his input into this… . if equality with God is something that Jesus doesn’t want something to be grasped; in other words he wants to share this privilege with others (does the greek text allow this interpretation - or better suggest it; who can help? maybe you, Peter?)than it is something that persons that are not God can share. In more direct words: Jesus invites humans to be a little bit like him. To become like Christ. To become brother and sister of Christ. To become sons and daughters of God. Which actually happened as a result of Jesus incarnation and witnessed throughout the NT. Still - Chist is the ‘only begotten Son’ (John 3,16) of God. non of his brothers and sisters can reach that (just in case you suggest that I think every ordinary person can become essentially like Christ - no!). Those verses for me show that Chist went down to earth to share something (even though not his essence as being the only begotten son of God since there can be only one firstborn son of God) with mankind that was former something that the son shared with the father only. Does all this make sense? I hope. If not then please know that I am very open for correction or comments.
Now to Colossians 1, 15-20. Since this is a long text I am pasting it in this comment and comment it along the way. Comments are in ALL CABS:
‘15 He is the image of the invisible God, THE IMAGE OF SOMETHING IS GENERALLY NOT EQUAL WITH THE SOURCE ITSELF the firstborn of all creation.THIS EXPLAINS WHY HE CAN BE THE CREATOR AND THE MEANS OF CREATION BUT NOT THE ULTIMAT CREATOR HIMSELF, SINCE GOD CREATEDTHROUGHHIM 16 For by [1] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. SEE PRESEDING COMMENT 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,IF JESUS WAS THE GOD HIMSELF, IT IS UNNECESSARY TO STRESS THAT THE FULLNESS OF GOD WAS IN HIM. THAT WOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING. IT ONLY SHOWS THAT THE FULLNESS OF GOD IS GIVEN TO HIM - FROM GOD 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.JESUS IS THE MEANS BY WHICH GOD RECONSILES ALL THINGS WITH GOD. ANOTHER CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND JESUS.

The references in Hebrews 1 simply set out the position for a divine Jesus; the subsequent chapters are pursuing in detail the ministry of Jesus.
with Hebrews 1 I will comment again like above.

1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,IF JESUS WAS GOD HOW WOULD IT MAKE SENSE THAT HE APPONTS HIMSELF? through whom also he created the world. WE HAVE DISCUSSED THIS ABOVE 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,AGAIN - THIS PICTURE OF THE IMRINT SHOULD LEAVE NO DOUBT THAT JESUS IS NOT GOD HIMSELF. THE PICTURE HERE ARE LIKE FOOTPRINT IN SAND - THE FOOTRPINT - OR IMPRINT- IS NOT THE FOOT OR THE PERSON ITSELF and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.IN MANY PARTS OF THE BIBLE IT IS STRESSED THAT JESUS IS GIVEN POWER FROM GOD. IT IS HIS POWER FROM GOD. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,MEANING HE IS NOT THE MAJESTY ON HIGH, BUT SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF IT 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.IF JESUS WAS GOD ( AS I MENTIONED IN MY LAST POST) WHIY SHOULD HE BE COMPARED TO ANGELS TO MAKE A POINT IN SHOWING HE ISEVENSUPERIOR TO THEM? IT WOULD BE ENOUGH TO SAY THAT HE WAS GOD. THIS APPLIES TO MANY OF THE FOLLOWING VERSES AS WELL.

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,

You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?

6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

Let all God’s angels worship him.”

7 Of the angels he says,

He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire.”

8 But of the Son he says,

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW, PETER, WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS LAST VERSE. IF JESUS IS GOD, HOW CAN THERE BE ANOTHER GOD OVER HIM?

10 And,

You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed. [1]
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said,

Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER ALL ENEMIES ARE A ‘TOOTSTOOL TO HIS FEET’? THIS IS AN INTERESTING QUESTION. I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BUT IT WOULD BE GOOD TO GET MORE IMPUT HERE.

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Even in the NT there is an incipient trinitarianism in some of the formulations - eg Matthew 28:19, THIS VERSE REMINDS ME OF THE APOSTOLIC CREED. THIS IS ACTUALLY A CREDD THAT ALL CHURCHES ( AND HERE i INCLUDE THE ARIANS) HAVE IN COMMON. IT WAS A 2 ND CENTURY CREED) TO MENTION THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ONE PHRASE I LIKE VERY MUCH AND IS VERY BIBLICAL. UNFORTUNATELY THINGS CHANGED IN THE 3 RD AND 4 TH CENTURY 1 Corinthians 12:4-6,THIS IS INTERESTING. IF THIS SHOULD BE TAKEN TRINITARIEN, WHY DOESN’T IT SAY :SPIRIT, SON AND FATHER? SINCE IT SAYSSPIRIT, SON AND GOD’, DOESN’T THIS IMPLY THAT THE FIRST TWO MENTIONED AREN’T GOD AND THEREFORE WORKS AGAINST COMMON TRINITARIAN BELIEFS? 2 Corinthians 13:14,THE SAME APPLIES TO THIS VERSE: ITS ABOUT JESUS, gOD AND THE SPIRIT. IF THERE IS GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON AND GOD THE SPIRIT, WHY IS THERE NO REFERENCE IN THE BIBLE THAT WOULD SAY FOR EXAMPLE :IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, OF GOD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT?, OR IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND GOD? OR : IN THE NAME OF THE SPIRIT, THE FATHER AND GOD? WHY IS ALWAYS IN THIS KIND OF FORMULATIONS THE FATHER = EQUAL WITH GOD? DOESN’T THIS MEAN SOMETHING? Ephesians 4:4-6, SEE COMMENT BEFORE. 1 Peter 1:2. SEE COMMENT BEFORE

Without a divine Jesus, there can be no outpouring of the divine Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and no people of God experiencing what is basic to the new covenant: the universal and continuous indwelling life of the Spirit. A mere man elevated to the heavens has no authority to dispense this divine gift.’

I agree with you and I do not deny a devine Jesus.

And back-tracking from this: without a divine Jesus, the significance of the crucifixion is lost. We are left with an angry God seeking retribution, and taking it out on an innocent person. (Except, as Paul makes clear in Romans, there are no innocent people born of Adam).

As I said before - I also believe in a devine Jesus even though I disagree with you with what you said here but on other terms. I do not believe the Bible supports the view that a sacrifice by Jesus was beeded in order to calm down his angryness. if God is God he can forgive freely (how would the parable of the lost son would make sense in the light of Jesus before his cruxifiction if God needed the killing of his own son to forgive sins?) there is much to say here but maybe we should start a new post for that - i would like to.

Much as your intervention is attractive, it won’t work without undercutting issues basic to the Christian faith.’
which basic christian issues are undercut?

This does not mean that Theocrat and I cannot respect each other, and listen to each other’s viewpoint. I have to say that Theocrat comes across as a highly gracious and courteous person, and his scholarship is in a league beyond mine. There is a refreshing humility in his approach. It has already been a pleasure to spend time in his company - more of a pleasure than with some people who hold the same views as myself. I sometimes wonder if the difference between us more one of the use of words than reality, but I haven’t got to that point yet.’
this is very nice!

thank you for your time! thank you for letting me be part of this conversation!
 paulchen

A short response to a long post

Thanks paulchen for your comments. There are so many, I’m not sure I can respond to them all. But overall, I’m wondering what you are trying to say about Jesus. That he is distinct from God the Father goes without saying. That he is in his own person God, seems to be a point of agreement between us.

The various verses quoted from Hebrews 1 seem to me to be saying that Jesus is God just as God (the Father) is God. I don’t think we should be confused just because the kind of distinctions between them used elsewhere are not filled in. ‘God’ and ‘God’ in Hebrews 1:9 are not necessarily one and the same.

That Jesus speaks of himself as God in John 8 seems to me implied in his final statement - John 8:59, but also in various things he says in the dialogue before that (he is to God as the Pharisees claim thay are to Abraham; he gives life etc). You would need to read the threads to see all that has been said (so far) on John 8. (Is Jesus God Almighty?)

In Colossians 1:16, who else can be creator other than God?

Not all the references include the Holy Spirit as part of this picture of God; eg 1 Corinthians 8:6, Philippians 2:6-11 and Colossians 1:15ff only speak of God (the father) and Jesus. But the ‘trinitarian’ verses mentioned do include the Holy Spirit.

So we seem to be led towards a trinitarian position.

However, I come back to your posts, and wonder again - what is your own view? If Jesus is (to you) divine, how then do you see him?

I mentioned the 3rd & 4th century viewpoints simply to suggest that later periods bring to Jesus ways of seeing him that were not in the minds of the New Testament authors. To me, it is an interesting exercise to ask what the NT authors were trying to do. By looking at that, and comparing with our own inherited ideas of the gospel, we might find the differences instructive, and helpful, in developing an approach which might address the needs and mood of our time more effectively.

I’m not personally interested in ‘emerging church’, and an ‘emerging theology’ for its own sake, and actually do not wish to throw away the wisdom of any age since the 1st century. I think it’s always a good time to ask whether we understand things quite the way they were presented in NT times. I think we always need to ask how the faith is packaged and communicated so that it is best received and understood by the culture of the age in which it is presented. (We also need to ask what the nature of ‘the faith’ is).

I’m at heart conservative, but wanting to ask all the time whether we have got things right. So if someone comes with a different theology, I want to ask whether it stands up to close investigation. There is no excuse for believing something just because it is ‘new’, or more ‘relevant’, if when you look at it carefully, it doesn’t hold together.

However, if something comes along which is both saying something new, and seems to hold together, I am interested. That’s why I’m interested in the work of N.T.Wright - who, I think, is playing a part in bringing about a genuinely new slant on biblical theology, and bringing into question things which people like myself just take for granted as true.

I’m sorry this doesn’t answer all your points in detail - but I’ll try to bring some more responses if there seems to be more that I can say.

Meanwhile, I wonder how you see things.

sorry for delay, Peter, Phil...

Peter,

Sorry for the delay in writing. but maybe I shold say that is just me in taking my time. sometimes I just have to think about things for a few days and find the right moment to write them.
there is a lot I would like to say but to answer your question briefly:
Where do I stand personally? f I hold that Jesus is divine, then where is the point?
See here is where I might differ. ‘Divine’ for me does not necessarily mean ‘the one and only God’. For me, Jesus is not just a human being. For me Jesus is divine. For me, Jesus is not the God that the shema Israel is said to either. For me Jesus is: the son of God. Its different to be ‘mere human’ and also different to be ‘GOD’. I am not holding this view because I think it’s cool or because someone taught me to. I was taught differently in my ‘evangelical upbringing’. I just think the Bible doesn’t support the ideas I was brought up with.
Actually, it is amazing how much today this matter is not just a theoretical one, but very practical. I for example can’t be a member of my church because my pastor and I don’t seem to 100 percent agree of what ‘one essence with the Father’ means. The pastor before him wasn’t really sure whether I was a christian… .
Actually; I would say I am Trinitarian. Even though I am not sure if the nicean council was worth having. I would say one of the most influencial members of the nicean council, the church father Eusebius from Casarea, held about the same view about Christ than I do. The Trinity is in my opinion too much understood like Athanasius understood it. we should not forget that he was in close contact with the ‘modalists’ or sabelliarians and was invluenced from that side. Actually I think that a modalist view of the Trinity (like saying: God is like water; it can be ice, snow, or liquid; or: God has three faces: the father, the son and the Holy Spirit) would go over very well in most evangelical churches - most people wouldn’t even realise that this is thinking was considered a heresy in the Old days. However, if someone would hold arian views (Jesus is a created being and yes, Eusebius were good friends with those people and considered them as brothers and sisters, yet didn’t agree with them), people would start doubting immediately if you were a christian.
Unfortunately I am leaving right now, but I want to write more later.
thanks for all your thoughts.

man, water, day, god

Dear Paulchen

We sometimes use the word man to mean mankind in general (both male and female) while in other contexts we use it to mean a male human being in particular.

The word water is sometimes used to mean H20 in any state (ice, liquid, steam) while in other contexts it means H20 in its liquid state only.

The word day can mean either a period of 24 hours or alternatively just the daylight part of that period.

So also the word God may sometimes refer to the whole godhead, while at other times may refer to one specific member of the godhead, viz. the Father. 1 Cor. 12:4-6 juxtaposes God with the Lord and the Spirit. If you press the grammar of this passage pedantically, you would have to conclude that the Lord of the Universe and the Spirit of God are not divine, which is inconceivable. So I would interpret the word God in this passage to refer to the Father specifically. But in other contexts the word God may be used more broadly to encompass the whole godhead.

Maybe the question “Is Jesus God?” is like the question “Is ice water?” The question itself is flawed because it over-simplifies the concepts and cannot be answered with a simple Yes/No.

In English we usually understand the phrase “son of …” to mean an offshoot from a parent, and therefore something which is distinct from the parent (albeit possibly of the same nature). Therefore “Son of God” may seem to imply a being who is not God. But in Hebrew idiom A is a son of B may mean A shares the same nature as B or A is a member of the group B. For example:

Genesis 5:32 says literally “Noah was a son of 500 years” but is usually translated as ‘Noah was 500 years old’.

Deuteronomy 25:2 says literally “a son of stripes” but is usually translated as ‘a man who deserves to be beaten’.

1 Samuel 20:31 says literally “he is a son of death” but is usually translated as ‘he must die’.

1 Kings 20:35 says literally “sons of the prophets” but from the context refers to a group of men who were actual prophets.

I hope this is relevant.

He was God enough...

I think that we have to be careful when approaching issues like the divinity of the person of Christ, and where exactly ( if he was / is divine ) does the line run between his divinity and humanity.

As we are starting to hold and wonder at Truth and the Bible in a more subjective / narrative style, I start to look at a thought from orthodox exegesis and hermeneutics that “A text cannot mean what it never meant” ( Fee&Stuart ).

If we look at the Bible as a chunk of writings ( largely from oral tradition ) describing from a human perspective the interactions of God with man. The central theme seems to be the story of redemption.

If this is the case then we can expect it to hold narrative relative to the central theme.

An explanation of who God is ( His nature ; omnipotent, omnisentient, omnipresent, eternal, Holy ), as well as His intentions toward us ( life, relationship, love ).

An explanation of who we are ( Created by God, tri part ( soul, flesh, spirit ), mortal, made for relationship with God ).

History of the relationship between God and ourselves, the good the bad and the ugly. The crisis, humanities rejection of God, and the consequences both immediate and eternal.

The paradox ( God love for us and His inability to tolerate sin indefinitely )

The solution, an atonement on behalf of humanity.

God as man ( Jesus ) does for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Guidance as how to once again live with / follow God now, and his desires for us to be part of His plan of redemption.

Instead of being a narrative of redemption, we keep trying to read more into it than there ever was. Or more into the text than what it was trying to communicate. When it come to the person of the Christ I believe all to was to communicate was, He was enough of the divine to be accepted by God as Himself ( the Trinity ), and enough of humanity to stand on our behalf before the wroth of God and make atonement. (D.Rutland) It wasn’t in my opinion suppose to contain more than this in regards to where the line of humanity and divinity intersected in the person of Jesus.

In saying that I’m loving this thread, and appreciate it very much.

Dave

"A text cannot mean what it never meant"

Kia-ora Dave,

A few thoughts on your post…

Your Fee&Stuart quote does not back up your point. According to the best analysis of 1c. Jewish thought I have read, neither the messiah nor son of man is necessarily a divine being.

Most people here would agree that “A text cannot mean what it never meant”. That’s why we’re attempting to take off the doctrinal glasses. That’s why the question is open…Does the text claim that Jesus is divine? (And, I’d add: How early in the tradition does the idea appear to take predominance?)

Wright concludes a reasonably in-depth overview of contemporary Jewish apocalyptic literature with:

“It is clear that whenever the Messiah appears, and whoever he turns out to be, he will be the agent of Israel’s god. This must be clearly distinguished from any suggestion that he is in himself a transcendent figure, existing in some supernatural; mode before making his appearance in space and time.” (Wright, 320 - NT and the people of God)

This doesn’t preclude that Jesus isn’t divine, simply that the idea never existed in Jewish literature up to that point. So, can a text mean what it never meant?You have assumed several positions that demonstrate (probably later, Hellenistic) systematic ideas (tri-partite man, tri-partite god-head, omnipresence, etc) that are a couple of steps ahead of the conversation. Especially, you state:

He was enough of the divine to be accepted by God as Himself ( the Trinity ), and enough of humanity to stand on our behalf before the wroth of God and make atonement. (D.Rutland)

However, the point of the thread is to discuss Christ’s divinity, not to assume it.

I appreciate your comment and viewpoint, but I wonder if there are any elements within the narrative or proof-texts that you would add to the thread?

Divinity of the Son

The argument I find uncompelling is where you say that Jesus did not claim to be indwelt by the Son. True. (Or semi true, as I will explain.) A mere indwelling would imply two persons rather than two natures in one person. The language in John is that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14). “Became flesh” suggests that there was already a Word before this. John 1:1-3 state this outright in any case. “Tabernacled” may suggest dwelling. But our own persons are spoken of similarly, as we find in 2 Corinthians 5:1. While it can be said that we dwell in our bodies, we do not claim to be indwelt by our souls, for that would suggest our souls were other persons than ourselves.

To sum it up:

Persons dwell in bodies.
People claim to be indwelt when there are persons dwelling in their bodies other than themselves.
So Jesus would not claim to be indwelt by the Son unless he wished to imply the Son was a person other than himself. But he can claim to be indwelt by the Father since the Father is another person.

"And the Word was God"

In all this discussion there has been no reference to John 1:1-3 and John 1:14 except by RickRichie. To me John, as an apostle, is saying that this man Jesus was the incarnate Word of God and that the Word of God was in fact God.

Too bad there isn’t a good font on the web for Greek in these postings.

My question would be, How do you read “Theos en hoLogos”? and how does that statement relate to the declarations Paul makes in so many of his epistles that reference God the Father and His Son?

Blessings to you all.

Back in the saddle

Peter

At last, here’s my response. Thanks for bearing with me through all these delays. 

Paul’s exposition of the remedy is that the solution lies in a death (and a rebirth). Jesus died on the cross as the representative of the last Adam. He rose from the dead as the representative of the new humanity. Our participation in this new humanity depends on a death, not a choice.

I agree with this absolutely. But the whole thrust of your statement here seems to rely upon Jesus being related to Adam, whilst being at the same time a forerunner of redeemed humanity. This is the point I’ve been trying to make all along. The texts you cited from Romans seem to affirm this. There is nothing there to say that Messiah had to be God to die for our sins.

It’s a reasonable inference from our experience and from the observation that God provided the sacrifice through himself in the form of His Son that sin is indeed something profoundly rooted in our human Adamic identity.

This is circular reasoning. You believe that our sins are something so profoundly rooted that only God could die for them, based upon your belief that it was God who died for our sins.

A further inference which seems to underlie many statements made in the discussion so far is that, if Jesus is not divine, then God sacrificed less. Clearly God created something and sacrificed it on the cross. We seem to be disagreement over what he or it was.

Either it was a body he had prepared for himself, occupying the place where the man’s personal centre would be. In which case, when God forsook the Son on the cross, all he did was shed a body and return to heaven.

Or else it was a complete man, the beloved Son of God. That being the case, the Son gave his all and the Father sacrificed much more than just the recently added and lowest part of himself.

"Unique normality"- apart from JAT Robinson, where in the bible are any of the concepts you propose in this paragraph substantiated?

Jesus’ uniqueness is based upon the fact that so far, he alone has lived out the righteousness, intimacy with God and spiritual maturity that will be the norm for humanity in the age to come.

He alone never sinned, neither will anyone in the new heavens and earth. The Father shared all his intimate counsel with the Son, showing him ‘all the things he does’, as he will with the rest of humanity when we see him face to face. He is unique today in that he is the lone prototype of what we all will be in the kingdom.

Your comments which I quoted at the beginning of this message chime in very well with this so I don’t understand why you object to it.

Were there two acts of creation in which the heavens and earth of Genesis preceded an act of creation of heavens and earth by Jesus?

Firstly, notice the wording here. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.” It is not the creation of heavens and earth that are in view here, but things in them. Paul then goes on to specify what they are: visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all [these] things were created by him, and for him."

Next, notice the strong parallel between the list in this text and Ephesians 1:20-23, which I cited.

Jesus is due for some further promotion in the future (Psalm 110:1; Heb 2:8), which he will share with others (Luke 22:29-30; 2Tim 2:12). As a result of Jesus’ work, men will be elevated above angels (1 Cor 6:3; Heb 2:5). This is some sort of a cosmic shake-up which began with the ascension of Jesus to God’s right hand and will culminate in the creation of new (Or possibly renewed) heavens and earth, with Jesus as the agent through which God will do this. So what Paul was describing in Colossians 1:16 is the creation through Christ of a new governmental order and perhaps, by extension the new heavens and earth.

Ponder on John 19:7. To claim to be ‘Son of God’ is not a capital offence, in the traditional use of the term.

Son of God was a royal title in both Judea and Rome (2 Samuel 7:14; John 1:49). Surely this political connotation is preferable in the context of a deliberate attempt to arouse the wrath of a deputy of Caesar.

There is no law in Judaism against a man claiming to be God Almighty. Perhaps because such a though would not even have occurred to them. See Mars-Hill’s comments to this effect. I find his observation absolutely crucial to this discussion and have expanded on this point in my most recent post.

You also need to answer the criticisms I made of your interpretation of John 8 in the ‘I am …’ post. In the meantime, take a look at Hebrews 1:6, 8, 10. Any comments?

Please see the response, which I have finally posted and which also leads on to another thread.

A positive contribution

Paulchen

 

Thank you for your contributions which I am enjoying immensely. I’m sure we all appreciate the additional time and trouble it must be taking you to write in a foreign language.

What I want to suggest, though, is not to ask questions that didn’t seem to be asked in hebrew and 1 st century times.But obviousely in the NT this question was not brought up. Why is it not enough for us to say that Jesus is the son of God; that he is the Christ, that he is the saviour?… Why do we so badly have to decide which exact nature he is of?

I think you’ve put your finger on something of immense significance here. I’ve touched on it in another post, entitled ‘reconciling the ambiguous by means of the clear’.

 At the same time, if Jesus was merely man - it is enough to say that, too. But since Jesus is Christ and the son of God - the writer of Hebrews is actually taking its time to properly place Jesus in the heavenly realm. This is very much noteworthy. 

I find your comments on Hebrews in this and later posts insightful, though I obviously draw some different conclusions to you and Peter regarding verse 10. I’ll have to post on this later, as Peter has asked me to.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’. (Acts 7,59) ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Romans 10.13) that Jesus is ment here should become clear in verse 14 and 15. And last but not least; the second - to - last verse in the Bible: ‘come, Lord Jesus’.

Isn’t it possible that in these instances Jesus is being called on not as God, but as saviour? The meaning of epikaloumenon is not confined to prayer alone. In Acts 7, the word prayed was chosen by the translator, based upon his theological presuppositions. Reference to any good bible dictionary should clear this up.

What about a savior that belongs to neither of those categories fully or exclusively; but belongs to the kind: ‘the son of God’? 

This is where you and me part company, bro! I see nothing in the Bible to say that Jesus had to be God to die for our sins. At the same time I see Jesus’ complete association with us as a man among men to be absolutely crucial.

 

A man like us- subject to and a product of his human environment as much as any of the rest of us. Surely a pre-existence in heaven with the Father would eclipse his human experience to an extent that would place him far beyond any ability to relate to those of us whose dawning conscious experience dates back no further than early infancy. How could he then be the descendant of Abraham in Hebrews 2:16-18 or the ‘made man’ of Galatians 4:4?

 

In Luke 1:34-35 Gabriel makes Jesus’ the title as Son of God the direct result of the fact that in the place of a human of Father, he has God. He does the same for Adam in the genealogy later. It’s that simple. David is the son of Jesse, Jesus is the Son of God. The same is said of other beings who are direct creations of God, in his image. We see it attributed to angels (bne elohim ) and Adam (Luke 1:38).

A higher estimation

Phil

Sorry for the delay. I’m back in the country now.

I cannot fault most of what you say but I still feel your estimation of Jesus is less than he deserves.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that in the context of this dialogue my focus has been a little bit too much on proving who or what Jesus is not. Beyond the scope of this conversation, you may find my estimate of Jesus to be higher than you think.

I would say that I have an increased appreciation of what Jesus achieved since seeing him as a man and no more. It’s as though previously, for me, his God-ness eclipsed his human-ness. With that issue resolved, I believe I have gained a clearer focus on the obedience, faith and sacrifice of this most noble and amazing man, the humble carpenter from Nazareth who was ordained in the counsels of God from before creation to inherit his universe as the reward for his unparalleled sacrifice. The ultimate rags to riches tale. 

(1) Colin Brown wrote: “Indeed, to be a ‘Son of God’ one has to be a being who is not God!”
But I would say that by the same argument the title “Son of Man” implies Jesus is not man. So why don’t you draw that conclusion?

I’m not sure that I understand you. Of course, as well as being someone other than the One God who is his Father, Jesus is also other than the human person who is his mother. In this case, Mary. Sons are created (gennao) by both their parents. Jesus is no exception. In both cases being descended from means being someone other than the person whose son you are.

The background to the quote is the common usage of the term in scripture and near Eastern cultures and literature. It tends to refer to created beings (kings, angels, wise or just men etc.)

Jesus himself spoke of his pre-incarnational existence in heaven, sharing glory with his Father. Therefore, even though you regard Jesus as less than God, surely even you would have to admit that he was not a normal human being in the same category as the rest of us but was rather a spiritual/heavenly/angelic being who was incarnated as a man.

The Father had glory laid up for Jesus before the foundation of the world. Indeed he was the man who was destined to inherit the very world he lived in. This does not necessitate a personal pre-existence.

In Revelation 13:8 was Jesus literally slain before the foundation of the world? In Jeremiah 1 was Jeremiah called and anointed in a pre-incarnational sense? He was a normal human being. Surely these texts speak of an existence in the purpose of God. So too the language of heaven. In James 1:17 every good and perfect is described as coming down from the Father. This is not usually interpreted literally. Why make an exception when it comes to Jesus?

If you want to use such a term, that is fine with me. Only I would interpret a pre-incarnational existence as being an existence in the plan and counsel of God.

So Jesus did exist before his birth, not as a personal being, but as an idea in the mind of God. The cornerstone of his logos or blueprint for creation.

In light of this it is worthy of note that the texts in which Jesus claims pre-existence tend to be found in John’s gospel, and always in connection with the title ‘Son of Man’. Therefore understanding them in a personal sense is incompatible even with an incarnational Christology, since even if Origen was right about Jesus being ‘Son of God’ by virtue of an ‘eternal generation’, he did not become ‘Son of Man’ until his conception in the womb of Mary.

Jesus’ words in John 14:1 tend to suggest two distinct objects of faith.

Yes. Believe in God and his agents. Just as in the Old Testament people were to told to believe in God and his prophets who gave us his word. In these last days God speaks to us by his Son, the faithful and true witness.

(4) Romans 8:27 speaks of the Spirit interceding to God on behalf of people. Does that not imply at least two centres of consciousness within the godhead? I would never think of my own spirit interceding to me.

This would seem to be a very obvious implication. Nevertheless I choose to interpret this text in a way that I feel harmonises better with what I read about the spirit elsewhere in scripture. This verse really deserves more careful attention in its own right. Maybe a post dedicated to it. If you would like to post something I would be happy to comment on it at some point in the near future.

Many of the figures used to describe Jesus are also impersonal (bread, light, door, bronze statue of a serpent, etc.) but I do not therefore doubt Jesus’ personality.

Many, but surely not the vast majority, as is the case with holy spirit. Only personal pronouns are used of Jesus. I can’t think of any place in which he is referred to as ‘it’.

(6) Whether the Spirit of God is personal or impersonal, would a creaturely vice-regent of God have the audacity to send the Spirit of God? John 16:7

Jesus explains again how it was done. The theme continues to emerge that this is not anything Jesus does in his own power or authority, but because of the Father.

The spirit is the Father’s, which he anointed Jesus with to do his work and which he then franchised to Jesus as the ‘authorised dealer’.

Acts 2:33

Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

This was prefigured in Numbers 11 when Yahweh took the spirit that was upon Moses and put it on the elders of Israel.

(8) My final point (for now!) is, does our different theological understanding of Jesus actually make us treat him differently in practice? Have you given Jesus your ultimate allegiance? Do you depend on Jesus for peace, rest, joy, strength, and everything else you need to cope with life? Do you esteem Jesus as highly as you esteem God? Do you seek Jesus’ enabling to bear fruit? Do you submit to his lordship unquestioningly (even though in your opinion he is not incapable of error)? If it came to the crunch, would you die for Jesus’ sake (who is only a creature in your opinion)?

This is a good question. By the grace of God, I would like to say yes to all of the above. My hope of life in the age to some rests upon Jesus and what he did for us at Calvary. His life, example and teaching are like rays of light to me in a very dark world. I honour him for who is. I just wouldn’t worship or pray to him as God. I stand in awe of the fact that God should dignify humanity to the extent of raising the governor of the universe and masterpiece of his creation up from among the ranks of our race.

I also believe that dialoguing honestly around these areas of disagreement gives Jesus far more honour than simply sweeping potentially important differences under the carpet, in the interests of an artificial unity and superficial love. For that I would like to commend all the participants in this discussion so far.

Pre-incarnate existence

Hello Theocrat … thanks for your interesting reply.

I would respectfully disagree with you over the existence of Jesus Christ prior to his human conception.

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. John 17:5     You said you believe Jesus was an idea in the mind of God. But how can a mere idea share God’s glory?

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. John 3:13     I interpret this to mean that Christ’s descent (and therefore his prior existence) was unique and significantly different to all the other ideas that God had in his mind from eternity, such as God’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah.

Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? John 6:62     I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. John 16:28     Doesn’t this imply some sort of correspondence between Jesus’s existence and position in heaven before and after tabernacling on earth?

… though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:6-7     I do not see how a mere idea in the mind of God could make a personal decision to take the form of a servant.

[Christ] upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:3     Who was upholding the universe when Christ was only a figment in God’s imagination?

You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (Words applied to Jesus by the writer of Hebrews.) Hebrews 1:10     I do not see how a mere idea in the mind of God could have had an active role in creation. An architect’s blueprint perhaps, but this verse seems to be saying more than that.

Cordially … Phil

sent into the world

Phil

How can a mere idea share God’s glory?

Because the glory itself is also an idea. It was God’s plan that his Son should inherit creation. Both the Son and the glory he was to inherit were alike bound up in the counsel of God as aspects of his purpose. In John 17 Jesus is expressing his consciousness of this.

No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

In the discussion of John’s baptism being either from heaven or of men (Matthew 21:25) the real subject was the contrast between two sources of authority. No one would suggest that John was actually personally baptising people in heaven. Jesus being sent from heaven would mean the same thing as John’s being sent by God (John 1:6). It speaks of the source of his divine commission.

Otherwise, how do you account for Jesus’ self-designation as Son of Man here and in every other place in which he speaks of his being ‘from heaven’? Was he Son of Man prior to his entering the human line? Who was this pre-incarnational human parent? Surely the language here is figurative.

Isn’t it possible that what he was doing was associating himself with the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision who was seen in heaven being given dominion over the earth as the embodiment of the suffering people of God? Jesus’ reference to where he was ‘before’ would also tie in with this.

You quote:

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

Now notice Jesus’ words in John 17:18: “As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”

The apostles were not outside the world. Yet they were sent into it. In the same way Jesus was. This would seem to be the way this language works.

… though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:6-7

I do not see how a mere idea in the mind of God could make a personal decision to take the form of a servant.

I agree. So the issue at stake here is when this decision was made. Throughout his life, Jesus was conscious of the fact that he was not only the king of Israel, but in a position of functional equality with God. This is what the ‘form of God’ may refer to. He had authority to forgive sins etc. See discussion above. Yet for all that, he chose to take on the role of the suffering servant of Yahweh. This commitment need not have been made during a pre-incarnate existence.

This reading of the word ‘form’ is consistent with the immediate context. The Greek word it is translated from is morphe and it is the same word that is used in the next verse for ‘the form of a servant’. Morphe then does not describe ontological substance, but rather the role in which someone operates. Servant isn’t the type of being you are, it describes something you do. Jesus both forgave sins like God, and washed his disciple’s feet like a servant.

Alternatively we could see an Adam Christology as underpinning this passage. Like Adam he was made in the image of God- this offers another way of understanding what the ‘form of God’ is. But unlike Adam he overcame temptation. Grasping at equality with God could be an allusion to Adam and Eve taking hold of the forbidden fruit in order to become ‘as gods, knowing good and evil’.

[Christ] upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:3

Who was upholding the universe when Christ was only a figment in God’s imagination?

The same person that did so while Christ was dead. God the Father. Certain things were committed to the Son subsequent to his resurrection.

You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (Words applied to Jesus by the writer of Hebrews.) Hebrews 1:10

Hebrews 1:10, as I have conceded above, is perhaps the most difficult passage for me. It’s something I’m looking into. You will probably find this unconvincing, but it may be that the writer is using this text to point towards the future agency of Jesus in the creation of the new heavens and earth. See my comments above. In support of this possibility I would point out that in the next chapter, verse 5, the writer points out that it is ‘the inhabited earth to come’, to which he is referring.

For the time being I feel it would be unwarranted to overturn the many passages explored in the discussion so far for the sake of what one verse appears to say. I’m persuaded for now that the view that I’ve laid out makes better sense of the rest of what the Bible says.

Shaliach

Hello Theocrat

Long time no see! I hope you’re still out there to continue this discussion. I have re-read all your comments in this thread several times to try to really understand the concept of the shaliach and whether it might adequately explain the NT data about Jesus. I have also been doing some research of my own.

There is a saying in the Talmud: ×©×œï¬µ×—ï­‹ של אדם כמוֹתוֹ, which means "A man’s messenger is as himself" (Berachoth 5:5). The messenger or agent is empowered to act and to be received as the one who sent him. The shaliach [agent] does not abnegate his intellect, will, desires, feelings, talents, or personal style to that of the one whom he represents; rather, he enlists them in the fulfillment of his mission. The result of this is not a lesser bond between the two, but the contrary: the meshaleiach [sender] is acting through the whole of the shaliach — not only through the shaliach’s physical actions, but also through the shaliach’s personality, which has become an extension of the meshaleiach’s personality.

This principle might explain the story of Moses and the burning bush. Exodus 3:2 says "… the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush." But then the angel of the LORD spoke to Moses as if the angel were God himself, saying such things as "I am the God of your father …" rather than "I am a messenger sent from the God of your father …" (see verse 6).

A similar phenomenon occurs in Judges chapter 6 where a heavenly being appears to Gideon. Verses 11-24 oscillate between calling the heavenly being ‘the LORDand ‘the angel of the LORD.

Maybe the person in the burning bush and the person who appeared to Gideon was an angel who had been sent by Yahweh to speak and act in Yahweh’s name and was therefore functionally equivalent to Yahweh without being ontologically equivalent to him.

I tend to think the principle of the shaliach is seen in the following verses:
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
Whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. (John 13:20)
When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:39-20)

If Jesus were the shaliach of God without being ontologically one with God, then I can understand how Jesus might be able to perform functions that are normally regarded as exclusively divine, such as forgiving sins and judging mankind on the last day. It is conceivable that God might authorize and empower a creature to speak and act in God’s name to perform a divine function.

But …

God’s love, grace, and mercy are not functions or tasks that can be delegated. They are personal attitudes and dispositions involving self-determined choices. Love would not be sincere if God were to commission one of his angels to become a source of love for mankind. God might convey or express his love to mankind through a shaliach but his love remains his own love and not the shaliach’s, even if the shaliach endorses that love. It is not transferable. If Jesus were merely a shaliach of God without being ontologically one with God (in other words, if Jesus were a created being whom God had authorized to act in his name), why does the New Testament describe God’s love and grace as originating from both the Father and Jesus?

If many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (Romans 5:15)

Paul does not speak of ‘the grace of God through Jesus Christ’ but of the grace of both one and of the other. And it is clear that ‘the grace of Jesus Christ’ is a genitive of possession rather than a genitive of association since it is juxtaposed with the grace of God rather than added as a sub-clause to define it.

Christ Jesus … made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8)
The New Testament not only describes Jesus’s incarnation and death as an act of obedience to the Father’s will but also as a self-determined, spontaneous, free decision by Jesus himself. If Jesus is merely a shaliach of God, then man’s salvation originates from a joint executive decision between God and one of his creatures. And so one of our fellow creatures would be partially to thank for our salvation.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

If Jesus were merely a shaliach of God (a created being whom God commissioned to act on his behalf), this verse would in effect be saying:

For God so loved the world, that he stayed in his cosy, comfortable heaven and sent someone else to suffer, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

If God and Jesus were ontologically different, I do not see how Christ’s decision to die for us would manifest the love of God.

I am genuinely interested to hear any comments you have about this. Thanks.

Re: Shaliach

Phil

Thanks for inviting me back into the discussion. I’ve been away from OST for a couple of months and only came across your message a couple of days ago. It’s nice to know I was missed.

As you probably expect, I really enjoyed the comments you made in the first part of your post. The fact that I agree with everything you said is purely coincidental. What you set out about the angel of Yahweh as God’s shaliach is actually right on the money in terms of the biblical Unitarian understanding of his role.

********* Why does the New Testament describe God’s love and grace as originating from both the Father and Jesus?********* 

Because both God the Father and Jesus his Son love us and have been gracious to us. This is good news, surely.

********* If Jesus is merely a shaliach of God, then man’s salvation originates from a joint executive decision between God and one of his creatures. And so one of our fellow creatures would be partially to thank for our salvation.*********

Wholeheartedly yes! Do you find something wrong with this? 

Israel has always celebrated the steadfast love of God, revealed through their deliverance in the Exodus. This appreciation appears undiminished by the fact that it was Moses who acted on God’s behalf to accomplish this. Why should it be different with Christians and  what Jesus has done for us?

********* For God so loved the world, that he stayed in his cosy, comfortable heaven and sent someone else to suffer, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)If God and Jesus were ontologically different, I do not see how Christ’s decision to die for us would manifest the love of God.*********

Please pardon me for being blunt but, if John or Paul had wanted to communicate that God showed his love for us by giving himself, it would have been simple enough for them to have written as much. Yet they did not. How do we account for this ‘inadequacy’?

Let me take a stab at what I think lies behind your objection:

God is so immense and powerful that I think we all often fall into the mistake of failing to appreciate the extent to which the Father suffers with his creation.

To really bring my point home it may help if I offer some more human examples.

First, Abraham offering Isaac. God describes the lad in this passage as ‘your only son, who you love’. It’s the first occurrence of the word love in the Bible and it brings home just how hard it must have been for Abraham to do what he did.

Second, Mary watching her Son’s agony on the cross. This is described as a sword piercing her soul.

We would hardly describe the experience either of them went through as being cosy or comfortable. How much more so God, whose love is vast and perfect, his mercy so central to his character and easily aroused.

Isn’t the love of God towards us revealed in the gospel by the fact that he was prepared to endure such suffering, offing his worthy Son as a ransom in exchange for us? Doesn’t it show how much he values us that he was prepared to give HIM, of all people, in exchange for US? I find this a staggering and utterly undeserved manifestation of love.

I really appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to read through my posts more than once. With what follows I run the risk of repeating myself, but I feel that what I need to get across here is absolutely central to the concerns you have raised. Please bear with me.

In approaching this issue we have to hold in view a fundamental statement of fact that the Bible makes us about God. He is immortal. He cannot die and certainly can’t be killed. I find the conclusion inescapable that whoever died had to be someone other than God.

So who or what was this Son?

Even if Jesus was ontologically one with God, only the part of him that wasn’t God could be subject to death (and, for that matter, temptation, weakness etc.)

On this basis I would suggest that the Trinitarian Jesus sacrificed far less, since it was only his body that died- the material, mortal part of himself, which he assumed at his ‘incarnation’. He was already a complete ‘divine person’ before his conception and presumably continued to be so through his life, death, and resurrection.

This raises what, for me, is another inescapable problem. For the man created in Mary to be a completely human person, he would need to be made with a personal centre of his own. But then that other person is someone ‘substantially’ other than God the Son. This puts us back to the relationship between that man and the God inside him as being a dynamic, as opposed to ontological, union.

Only a ‘merely’ human Jesus could give up everything he is, completely offering his whole self, pouring out his soul to death. Only for him could the surrender to death be a genuine step of faith, into the unknown, as opposed to the return to a prior state of existence in a far better place than this wicked world.

On this basis I even believe that the ‘Trinitarian God’ sacrificed far less than the ‘Unitarian’ one. The latter had to endure the agony of watching his Son suffer and die. The former only allowed a part of himself to surrender a body. The Son’s cry of dereliction on the cross is reduced to the mere amputation of a shell inhabited by the eternal God who could not die.

I hope this helps to show how the love of God is demonstrated through the giving of his Son, from a Biblical Unitarian standpoint. 

Re: Shaliach

Hello again Theocrat! Just to say that there is a lot of logic in your comment, but it flows from a false premise. Your premise is that God cannot experience death - so if Jesus was God and man (which you deny) only his ‘human’ nature died; his divine nature didn’t. Therefore (according to you) the suffering of a totally human Jesus would be greater than a Jesus who was both God and man.

You also make the slightly contrary assumption that God could not experience death, on the grounds that the experience would be the same as it is for mankind - total extinction of his being. This is not necessarily the case - and in the atonement, certainly not the case.

That Jesus died, and for a brief period experienced death like mankind, I have no doubt. But he had already given up his privileges which he enjoyed with God, as God, by becoming man - and whilst living on earth as a man, he subjected himself to the same kind of limitations that we experience in our humanity, depending on God in the same way as we need to depend on him. This is the essence of Philippians 2:5-8, which corresponds with everything we read about Jesus in the gospels and the epistles.

When Jesus died, the mystery of God’s nature is such that God did not become extinct. That is why a doctrine of the trinity, or something like it, emerges naturally and necessarily from the text. But the suffering which now takes place is infinitely greater than that which would have been the case if Jesus had been wholly man. The suffering now takes place within God’s own being. God has absorbed death into himself, experiencing its pain as a personal fracture.

Jesus is more than a messenger who identifies with the attributes of the one who sent him; he came to do for man what man could not do for himself. Any other explanation falls short of the biblical account, and fails to do justice to the sin which had bound Israel, and the human race since Adam, and still binds today, except that now there is a redemptive solution. The solution is in God’s initiative, provided by God himself, through the one who shared no part in Adam’s sin - but entered voluntarily into Adam’s race, and identified with that sin on the cross.

There is not much wrong with the traditional interpretation of Jesus or his atoning sacrifice - and this is really good news for the world, which goes as deep into our lives as it lifts us high. Deeper, I would suggest, than your interpretation. It’s also the good news which needs to be incorporated into the ‘historical/contextual/narrative approach’ - the necessary understanding which brings the story from its historical context into the context of the present day - our times, our culture. As yet, this latter approach simply asks us to become part of a story and a movement, but doesn’t tell us about the transforming power which the story principally came to bring.

 

 

Re: Shaliach

Peter

Thanks for chipping in. Since it is my premise that you find fault with, and your subsequent statements stem from it, I’ll confine my comments to defending my original point.

I have to ask- Is it too much to assume that when the Bible says death, it means death and when it says immortal, it means immortal? To change the rules of a word’s meaning to something different when applied to Jesus or God is to bend scriptural language to patristic theology. It calls into question the genuineness of the apostolic witness on a key point that ‘Christ died four our sins according to the scriptures’.

*********It’s also the good news which needs to be incorporated into the  historical/contextual/narrative approach’*********

Coincidentally, I’ve been working on brief post about this since Andrew and you raised the issue a very, very long time ago. Perhaps this may be a way forward through the impasse that Phil feels we are in, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

*********As yet, this latter approach simply asks us to become part of a story and a movement, but doesn’t tell us about the transforming power which the story principally came to bring.*********

With respect, I’m not sure your judgment of me is fair on this point, since our discussion hasn’t really touched on the transforming power of our respective stories. Perhaps, God willing, we’ll be able to get into this as well. 

Theocrat

 

Re: Shaliach

Theocrat - If you read my comment carefully, you will see exactly what I was saying about death, and its absorption into the divine nature. Again, a trinitarian understanding of God is the key to the issue - and again, it arises naturally and necessarily out of the text. You diminish the meaning of the atonement, and cast a slur on God’s character, and require of Jesus something that he simply could not have done, if you make him out to be human pure and simple.

I was glancing at previous posts on the subject - and just about everything I wanted to say is there, as clearly and simply as I think I could say it.

My final comment about the historical/contextual/narrative approach (or whatever) wasn’t aimed at you - so you don’t need to pick that one up!

Impasse

Hi Theocrat

Many thanks for taking the time to respond to my points. I have hugely benefited from our discussion because your views have stimulated me to think about this subject more deeply than ever before. But I think both of us (and maybe Peter too) are now running the risk of repeating ourselves. We seem to be firmly entrenched in our respective positions and neither side feels the other has offered convincing enough reasons to change.

I feel you still haven’t grasped my point about Jesus being a source of grace rather than merely a conduit of grace.

Israel has always celebrated the steadfast love of God, revealed through their deliverance in the Exodus. This appreciation appears undiminished by the fact that it was Moses who acted on God’s behalf to accomplish this. Why should it be different with Christians and what Jesus has done for us?

I think there is a major difference between Moses and Jesus. Initially Moses was reluctant to act as deliverer. And nothing in the OT even hints that the Jews believed their deliverance depended on Moses’s willingness to comply. If Moses had refused to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God would have delivered them by some other saviour. As Mordecai said to Esther “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.” The exodus from Egypt was wholly God’s initiative, and Moses was merely an instrument in God’s hand.

However, the incarnation and sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth was initiated jointly by God the Father and Jesus himself. It stemmed from both the grace of God and the grace of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15). The New Testament describes Jesus’s work of salvation as a self-determined, spontaneous, free decision by Jesus himself. As Peter said in Acts 15:11, we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Grace is not an attribute you can delegate to someone else to exercise on your behalf. It is conceivable you could delegate a gracious task to someone else, but not the grace itself which prompted the task to be done.

Although Moses grew into an obedient, valiant, courageous servant of God, the exodus from Egypt was not a result of Moses’s graciousness, but only of God’s. Therefore the Israelites (including Moses) sang:

"I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:1-2)

This song contains no offer of thanks to Moses for his role in the exodus. But in contrast, a monotheist said in Revelation 5:13:

I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!"

Re: Impasse

"Although Moses grew into an obedient, valiant, courageous servant of
God, the exodus from Egypt was not a result of Moses’s graciousness,
but only of God’s."

So when the Jews where freed from the Nazi concentration camps, that was not a result of the work of Allies and their Military but of God?  By this logic it was also God’s work to put them there in the first place.  Just because someone wrote it in the OT or NT does not mean it should be taken literallly.  This statement follows the same methadology in interpretation:

"I think there is a major difference between Moses and Jesus. Initially
Moses was reluctant to act as deliverer. And nothing in the OT even
hints that the Jews believed their deliverance depended on Moses’s
willingness to comply. If Moses had refused to lead the Israelites out
of Egypt, God would have delivered them by some other saviour."

While one man can make a difference I doubt that Moses believed that he could single handedly save his people - it would take the hard work of his people as well.

One needs to remember that back in the days of the OT and NT people used "god" as a way to explain everything.  I go back to the question I have been asking over and over again on other threads - if Jesus had not been murdered and garnered the respect of The People of Israel - would he still have been thought of as the Mesiah or would he be given the same status of a renowned Rabbi?

History keeps repeating itself so either God never learns from the lessons of the past or there is another answer?

Re: Impasse

Phil

**********However, the incarnation and sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth was initiated jointly by God the Father and Jesus himself.**********

I see the point you’re making here. I suppose I would say that the initiative comes from both in different ways. From the Father, in terms of purpose and from Jesus, in his obedient response to the Father’s plan.

If it be possible, let this cup pass from me…’ the Son seems to be seeking some kind of alternative route here. What man would want to be tortured to death if there was potentially another option? But the blueprint is in God’s hand.

Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done’, seems to be a case of two conflicting wills, one of which was submitted to the other, as opposed to the Father and Son either sharing one will, or else having two wills in harmony. It is in this act of obedience that Jesus shows supreme grace in dying for his friends (and enemies). For that he deserves to be praised.

Apropos this, I plan to deal with this whole issue of obedience in another post. I’m going to have a stab at a narrative approach, as suggested by an earlier discussion with Peter and some observations made by Andrew regarding my dialogue with him.

I hope this will prove a fruitful way forward.

Theocrat

Re: Impasse

Man, what a long set of posts! I’m new to this site and I’m a new Unitarian. Theocrat, you’ve argued some excellent points. Have you ever read William Ellery Channing’s seminal sermon ‘Unitarian Christianity’? It truly illuminates the illogic of the Trinity, and highlights the difficulties in making Jesus divine in any way other than functionally. Channing was also a passionate Christian, intensely devoted to Jesus Christ. His love of the Lord really comes out in this writing and provides excellent retorts to those who think Jesus’ status is somehow lessened by not believing in his divinity.

Re: Impasse

Unitarian

I’m sorry for the long delay in responding to you. This is the first time I’ve checked this thread in a while. I’ve tried sending you a message but you’ve configured your memebership not to accept replies to private messages or emails.

If you would like to correspond with me, please feel free to adjust your account and try again. It would be good to hear from you.

I’ve heard of Channing’s work but haven’t read any of it myself. I’ll add it to my hit-list.

At the moment I’m reading Adolf Harnack’s ‘history of dogma’. He has some very interesting and disturbing things to say about the massive innovations which took place very early in the life of the church. It gives a lot of support to the Unitarian thesis of a departure from the pristine monothesim of Jesus.

I do hope you get in touch.

Theocrat

www.Godfellas.org

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

I know this is an old thread but this thread really got my me thinking in fact it was so much I needed to write my thoughts down just to calm my thinking :)

Now, I’ve come to my own conclusions from reading this and internal thinking, wither any one else agrees or not is not my immediate concern… of course thats not saying I want to annoy anyone or say that what anyone else believes is wrong these are just my beliefs and thoughts.

So, lets see, the way I see it, in the beginning Jesus was God, fully and wholly, indistinct in name nor in essence. That is Jesus was not distinct from the Father he WAS the father.

God, being infinite, then chose to separate a part of himself and made that part mortal, and human (He is God therefore nothing is beyond his power), that part became the human Jesus.

This human Jesus was subject to this creations status and rules, that is mortality, temptation, etc. Being in spirit (i.e. his soul) God, meant he could resist such temptations (showing us that we too can achieve this). He then carried out his mission which was to in an obvious way (I can’t remember exact references at the moment but there are many times when he says he knows that he will die painfully and publicly) show that God wanted us reconciled.

He dies on the cross, and is raised three days later his form now that of something beyond human (various scripture show him doing things in this new body impossible by not just humans but physics - I curse my memory from forgetting details).

When he ascends to Heaven he joins God. However, Jesus in now a conduit, our high priest standing at Gods right hand part of God and yet not. How Jesus can now be both God and Human is not such a mystery to me when I consider the wonders of quantum physics and the sheer beauty of its complexity.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts and I really should look up the references to back up my thinking but at least my brain has calmed down now :)

Thanks for this amazing site which challenge and makes me think.

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

Technocrat is right. In Jesus’ gospels sayings, he never proclaims that he is God. The few New Testament texts that the institutional church has cited in its assertion that he is God are mistranslated or misinterpreted, and most of them have grammatical difficulties. Let’s briefly examine them in their order of importance.

First, Thomas’ confession “my God” in John 20.28 alludes to what Jesus said twice to him days earlier, that “the Father is in me” (John 14.10-11).

Second, John 1.1c should not be translated “and the word was God” but as the NEB has it—“and what God was the word was.”

Third, John 1.18 begins by saying, “No man has seen God at any time.” Although most of the best Greek manuscripts then add that Jesus is “the only begotten God,” this would contradict the previous clause, since many people literally saw Jesus. Therefore, the reasonable solution is that other Greek manuscripts have the correct reading of this second clause, which is “the only Son” as in the RSV (cf. NEB).

Fourth, English version are about evenly divided on how to treat the grammatically difficult texts, as to whether they call Jesus God or mention Jesus and God the Father, such as in Romans 9.5, 2 Thessalonians 1.12, Titus 2.13, and 2 Peter 1.1.

Fifth, Hebrews 1.8 says, “But of the Son He [God] says, ‘Your throne, O God,” quoting this second clause from Psalm 45.6. This author more likely did not intend to call Jesus “God” just as the psalmist didn’t intend to call Israel’s king or messiah “God.”

Sixth, “He is the true God” in 1 John 5.20, which refers to “him who is true” earlier in the verse, more likely refers to the subject of the context, which is God (the Father), rather than the immediate antecedent, which is Jesus Christ.

The difficulty in these texts should be examined in light of those biblical texts which clearly establish that only the Father is God and Jesus is not God, as in 1 Corinthians 8.6 (“there is one God, the Father”), Ephesians 4.6 (“one God and Father of all”), and especially Jesus’ prayer in John 17.1-3 (“Father,… that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent,” cf. 5.44).

Finally, Jesus often called the one God his “Father” and “my God” (Matthew 27.46/Mark 15.34; John 20.17; Revelation 3.2, 12; cf. Psalm 22.1; Isaiah 49.4-5; Micah 5.4). If Jesus had a God—whom he constantly distinguished as someone other than himself and called him “the Father,” Jesus could not have also been God or else that would be two Gods, which goes completely against the Bible, which repeatedly states that there is numerically only one Most High God.

Read about this in my new book, The Restitution of Jesus Christ, which is available at my website, servetustheevangelical. It may be the most formidable book to ever challenge the traditional view that Jesus is God while affirming all other major church teachings about Jesus.

Servetus the Evangelical

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

I am new to this but I have several questions for Theocrat or anyone else. But first I would like to make a comment.

I am actually more inclined than not to believe that Jesus is not God (literally), but both Son of God/Son of man as he himself claims. God said this is my son- how do we look arguing with God about this fact?

Thus my understanding is this, that pursuant to God God is a Spirit and it is actually man who has the dual nature (flesh and spirit/soul) NOT GOD.

Man is a spirit being - whom God is the father of all spirits. There is a spirit within man, The spirit returns to the father, etc…

Jesus is also a spirit being but

Unlike Man (whom parents are human & human) Jesus parents were God (the Spirit) and Woman (Human)

THUS it is Jesus who has a dual nature (as does any other human)

I agree that God in Christ does not make the man God.
God’s Spirit in you does not make you any more God than it would Jesus.

All/any pre-existing spirits are of God, but that clearly does not lead one to draw such a conclusion that even under these circumstances any other spirit would be deemed to be God himself, but of God.

1 Cor 2:11-12 “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God”

But back to my questions

Question:1

I would question how would Theocrat (or anyone) explain Deut. 32:3-4 and 1 Cor. 10:2-4 if Jesus is NOT God. I have not found an explanation justifying how these verses could possibly be made to harmonize.

Question:2

Also how would you explain the alpha and omega phrases in relation to Jesus and God being two or the same being.

Thank You

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

Maybe we should be more open to scripture.

There are many questions to be answered. The scripture says that God is spirit, yet could this be said because no one of that time saw God? Enoch walked with God Genesis 5:24, Abraham clearly saw God Genesis 12:7, Moses and the Elders saw God Exodus 24:11. Just because we or others haven’t seen God physically isn’t enough to believe that he is only in spirit. Doesn’t the Revelation say that God will live with his people? How can he live with his people if he’s not a physical being or some type of entity with a presence?

First I believe that one must realize that heaven is a physical place. Jesus was in a physical body upon his resurrection and ascended into the sky to be with his Father and God. In scripture sky and heaven are one in the same; this is the realm of God.

I’ve often been perplexed over whether God is a spirit or is a being or another dimension.

A spiritual heaven doesn’t make sense. Why would one die to be with the Father in a spiritual realm and then resurrect to be with the Son and away from the Father? The Bible says no such thing! When we are dead, we are but dust of the Earth until the resurrection where then Christ through the authority vested upon him by the Father will resurrect us to be with him. He will smite Satan and his Armies and then the Father will come and dwell with us and his Son. Note that scripture is clear that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. Let me paraphrase it as Jesus says in the Lord prayer, “Our Father who is in heaven… your kingdom is to come as your will, will be done on earth just as it is already done in heaven”. One of Jesus’ greatest messages is that the Kingdom is at hand, we just can’t see it as it is somewhere out there in space. Even Jesus said, I am not of this world. This should make this whole statement obvious.

The spirit or “breath of God” is given by God, also known as the breath of life. Upon death I believe it returns to the source, the Creator. The breath of God is what animates our soul. All living things are filled with the breath of life. I would believe that we all are of one spirit as that spirit comes from one source. Although, we can have a good or bad influence upon the spirit within depending on whether we chose the way of the world or the ways of God. He we pattern ourselves after Christ we will in essence have a Holy Spirit about us.

In regards to the questions…

Question: 1

I would question how would anyone explain Deut. 32:3-4 and 1 Cor. 10:2-4 if Jesus is NOT God. I have not found an explanation justifying how these verses could possibly be made to harmonize.

Answer: 1

In regards to the people that followed Moses, did they live forever or did they parish? The people did eventually parish. It says in 1 Cor. 10:4 “They drank from that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.” If they had truly drunk of Christ life giving water than they would have never died, thus this was speaking of Christ coming in the future resurrection where all will drink of the life giving water Rev 22:1. Thus when it says followed them; it meant to proceed after them. Jesus even said that he was spoken of by Moses.

Now let’s address Deut. 32:3-4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.” I don’t see a contradiction, the passage says that a God and not the God. There are many lords and gods but for us there is only One! The LORD of Lords and the God of gods. We must remember that god can also mean judge and Christ has been given all authority on earth and in heaven to judge. Of course this text can be written to try and give it a different meaning, but I don’t believe that we should try to do this when it is not concurrent throughout scripture. Scripture is clear that there is only One God and Father, and that Jesus sits at his right hand. I will add that v.18 does state that the Father was their Rock, thus showing that this is not a reference to Christ unless you were to believe that they are one in the same. Again I have to reference Isaiah 42:1 which clearly tells us that God planned to put his Spirit upon Christ. Unfortunately receiving God’s Holy Spirit doesn’t make one a litteral god or we’d all be gods; however receiving the word of God does give one the authority to judge as a god; meaning: one who passes judgement on mankind on God’s behalf. The best examples of this being Moses, Prophets, and Christ.

Question: 2

Also how would you explain the alpha and omega phrases in relation to Jesus and God being two or the same being.

Answer: 2

It must first be noted that Jesus didn’t know when he would return, only the father knew. The book of Revelation is message or truth about Christ that the Father revealed to him, so that he could show his servants what was to happen. Jesus’ sent his angel to show John what had been revealed to Christ’s by his Father. Thus the message is given by the Angel and speaks of both the Son and the Father. Note in Ch1 verse 4 “grace and peace to you from the One who is and was and is coming [the Father], and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ [the Son who is shown as a separate individual]. V6 “…He [Christ] made us to be a kingdom of priests who serve God his Father.” One should remember this is all being spoken to John by an Angel. V8 says, “The LORD God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” You will find in Revelation that God the Father is referred to as: the One Seated on the Great White Throne, the Alpha and Omega. Christ on the other hand is the first and the last which could be explained in 1 Cor. 15:45 “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” Jesus being both the first and the last, being both living and a life-giving spirit. What gets me is Revelation 22:13 which I will agree is hard to ignore. This could be as I believe the Father speaking, yet then there is the common use of “first and last” which was used by Christ in Revelation 2:8. Thus my only explanation on this would be that “first and last” may have multiple possible uses. If this verse was to be believed as implied then we would have to believe that the Father and the Son are one in the same person and/or being which I feel in contrary to scripture.

Sincerely,

DoubtingFaith

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

Thank you for touching on this as I have shared this thought process.

Isaiah 42:1-9 Clear tells us who Christ is.

v.1 God clearly speaks saying,

Here is my servant, the one I support. He is the one I chose, and I am pleased with him. I have put my Spirit upon him, and he will bring justice to all nations.”

I’ve posted a few videos outlining various scripture that shows who Christ is and God purpose.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QaUtjqqx7o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7gE74DF6Eo

From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem,

It is important to remember the doctrine of the Trinity in connection with the study of God’s attributes. When we think of God as eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, and so forth, we may have a tendency to think only of God the Father in connection with these attributes. But the biblical teaching on the Trinity tells us that all of God’s atrributes are true of all three persons, for each is fully God.”

I can’t find this in scripture. Read 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 for this tells of Jesus’ place.

20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

You will clearly note a hierarchy. All things are put under Jesus, excluding God himself and then Jesus puts himself under God. This is clearly two different person with different levels of Authority.

Jesus is clearly in the flesh upon his resurrection and in Acts 1:11

They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.”

I’m sorry to say it but Jesus has left the building until the time of his return; by the way he didn’t know when he’d return either, only the Father knew… What happened to being all knowing?

And then there is Heaven or the sky. Unfortunately the Church has been spouting of a false belief that heaven is a place that one goes to after their death. The Trinity along with other beliefs of a spiritual heaven are all through pagan influences. If one reads the scripture it is clear that heaven is a physical place beyond the sky and that one day Jesus will return from heaven to instill God’s kingdom.

I feel that it is also clear that the “Lamb of God” is Christ while the One sitting on the Throne is the Father clearly showing two godly beings.

If one read the definition of the word “god” they will note that is also means judge. Those who have been given the words of God have been given the authority to judge on God’s behalf thus making them like gods. How many times can we ignore the scriptures that say Jesus was sitting at the right hand of God.

People will argue about the Book of John and how Jesus was the Word made flesh. But one must also realize that the Book of John was written for the Greeks. The Greeks didn’t understand the concept of a prophet who spoke the Word of God via the spirit of God. Note the spirit of God gave the prophets the word of God, thus making them like gods giving them the authority to judge God’s people. The greeks did not understand the concept of God’s spirit, yet did have a concept of the mind of God or the “Logos”; meaning the thoughts or words of God. Thus God’s thoughts, the mind of God, the Logos became flesh manifested in Jesus. This is the same as the spirit became flesh manifested in Jesus just as the prophet too had received the spirit. The true meaning was lost or distorted in translation and then used for a bad premise.

Unfortunately I think this is hard to accept because people who share this view are looked down upon by the Church. I don’t believe one should accept a lie just because everyone else does, because then Satan has already defeated you.

What I do believe is important is that we realize that Christ was sent to this Earth to be an example. Being fulling human and living a life without sin is a testament that it is possible. And we should strive to be Christ like. Fortunately for us God is a forgiving and merciful God, especially if you follow after his Son. See Ezekiel 18 where it tells us that each man will be judge for his own actions. If a good man turns evil he will truely die, but if a evil man turns good he will truely be saved. [Micah 6:6-9] Paraphrase, God doesn’t want your sacrifice he only wants you to do what is good, to do what is right and loving towards others, and to follow after him living a humble life.

God Bless

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

I first would note that the title “Oneness believers” is actually a misleading title for those we title as “Jesus is God” believers or “Jesus Only” believers because many religious groups believe in only One God. There are some apostolic groups who however believe in one God and not Jesus being God rather Jesus is Gods’ Son and Jesus was not a God at all himself in anyway (nor a little God Jr.). So that must first be made clear.

There seems to be a very common conjecture made with many of the Greek written scriptures, the conclusion (Jesus is God) is always an indirectly drawn conclusion. The problem is they are ASSUMPTIONS not claims found stated in the Bible anywhere. Seems the confusion often lies between distinguishing scriptures in reference to God directly apart from those which are in reference to attributes God gave Jesus of himself.

I have asked various (Oneness or Jesus is God believers, which is by the way what I use to believe) Clergy/Pastors/Friends to clarify for me just how Jesus could actually be BOTH (totally Man) and (totally God) as we claim without being contradictory.

I will present to you the evidence from my research that gave me the confirmation I needed to open my eyes and understanding when I presented these groups with the following three questions.

(Three question for any “Jesus is God” Bible Scholar or Pastor)

Q1. Jesus The Man; I agree Jesus had a dual nature, all men do (flesh/spirit) but no one has explained what happened to Jesus’ human soul, that part of his “totally” human nature, if they are one?.

Now in order for Jesus to be a man (a true human being) he would have had two (2) attributes:

1. He would have been limited in some aspect of his life (able to die, suffer, etc…); and

2. He would have a man’s spirit it having independent will to either obey or disobey God.

Unless we say Jesus only had God’s spirit, in which case Jesus would not have been “totally” human, what happened to this man’s spirit? Jesus Humanity is not disputed by anyone.

Q2. Can anyone explain: If Jesus is totally God then how is (God totally man)?

 Confused? The totally God-man theory is impossible to explain truthfully. This is because this theory has its own, self contained contradictory clause built-in; hence to be the “totality” of anything leaves NO ROOM to be anything else! Therefore whatever the one is, the other is NOT! Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man”

Distinguishing Fact From Paradox:

The bible’s definition of God is not disputed: God is an invisible/all powerful/immortal spirit

The bible’s definition of man is not disputed: man is a visible/not all powerful/mortal flesh

What is true by definition will always remain true unless we start redefining things. For example, 2+2=4. This equation will always remain true. The only way this can ever become false is if we decide to change the definitions of the component parts.

A Spirit is regarded as supernatural and is separate from matter. Matter is whatever occupies space and is perceptible to the senses-(man is an example of matter)

A Supernatural being (Supernatural is not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature; specific, of or involving God, ghosts, spirits, etc.)

The definition of the word spirit does not provide information as to what it looks like. If a spirit is a supernatural being (something not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature) then is it possible that a spirit can live inside a human being and not have the physical form of a human being? If it is something that is “not explainable by the known forces or laws of nature” then that means a spirit can be anything because it is not bound by the laws of nature.

This is not the definition of man.
To be man means to be limited: (lacking in knowledge, prone to mistakes, imperfect, flesh)

To be God means just the opposite: unlimited (all power/knowledge, immortal, perfect, spirit)

Now, by definition, a thing cannot be the opposite of itself. A thing cannot be limited and unlimited at the same time. The presence of one of these qualities implies the absence of the other. Jesus was either one or the other. He cannot logically be both.

To say someone is limited and unlimited is like saying that you saw a square circle. This is an impossibility. Are you saying the circle was not round, in which case it was not a circle? Or are you saying the square was circular? This is not a paradox; this is meaningless nonsense, however imaginative it might be.

To say that someone is limited and unlimited at the same time is to say that “X” and “not-X” can both be true. This is either to abandon the meaning of these words or else to abandon logic, and in either case this means we are speaking nonsense that can have no meaning for us.

The orthodox say that Jesus was imperfect with regards to his human nature -but perfect with regards to his divine nature. The problem with this position is that it implies the existence of two persons occupying the one body of Jesus. You need for this two minds, two wills, two characters.

But the “Jesus is God” creed does not allow this necessary conclusion and insists that Jesus was not two persons but one only. Now, this one person had to be either perfect or not, infallible or not, unlimited in knowledge or not.

Now a paradox is something that seems impossible but can be demonstrated to be true. On the other hand, the creedal statement may seem true to some people but logic demonstrates it to be false.

Q3. Final question: After reading 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 and the Book of Revelation exactly what position did we say Jesus had in Heaven?

We do not teach that the Son is actually present in heaven with his Father as a separately identifiable being, (although the bible last records Jesus being in heaven with his Father, God.) now, if what we say is true, there should only be God reflected in heaven and there should be NO “Son of God, Lamb of God, or Son of Man” existing or “living” separately in heaven with God. There should be no other divine person (two Holy Beings) in heaven elevated higher than the angels other than God; if they are indeed one in the same (only one Holy Being) as we claim.

The Book of Revelation (Who does Jesus claim to be?)

*NOTE: RED indicates those verses said to be spoken by JESUS (King James Bible)

Rev 2:18
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;”

 In this verse Jesus is now in heaven speaking as whom, as God or man or the Son of God?

Rev 3:5
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

 In this verse Jesus is now in heaven speaking as whom, as God, man or the Son of God? Is he still “acting”? Seems to me that the person we know as Jesus, even after he is in Heaven, is clearly not claiming to be the Father himself. Is this some trick statement? Then who is “my Father” and “his angels” Jesus is referring to?

 No wonder we avoid these verses we would be hard pressed to come up with some believable explanation how Jesus is being reflected as being his own Father in this verse.

Rev 3:12-13
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

 Note: Seems to me that the person we know as Jesus, even after he is in Heaven, is again clearly not claiming to be God himself, why is that so this time? Is this another trick statement? Then who is “my God” Jesus is referring to?

 Again it is no wonder that we avoided these verses we would be hard pressed to come up with some believable explanation or “sound doctrine” which would make this verse indicate that Jesus was talking to John about himself as “God”.

Rev 3:21
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

 Note: Again the person we know as Jesus, even after he is in Heaven, is clearly not claiming to be the Father himself. Who then is the “my Father” and “his throne” Jesus is referencing in comparison to the “my throne” he mentions? I missed that sound doctrine explanation.

The Book of Revelation- (The Confirmation Verses)

(Who Spoke to John as God in Rev 21:6-7; God or Jesus?)

Rev 21:4-7
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he [God] that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said [God said] unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I WILL BE HIS GOD, and he shall be MY SON.”

 This phrase “I will be his God, and he shall be my son” is either an indication of Jesus or God speaking. (We know Jesus never claimed anyone would be “his son” only God made that claim. The only other challenge lies in proving whether or not it was Jesus or God speaking).

 Rev 21:5-7 actually reflects undeniable evidence indicating that it was not Jesus speaking (whose spoken words are reflected in RED; see Rev Chaps. 1-4) but God himself speaking.

 If you recall John said “he said unto me, ………” (vs 6) which was followed up by him saying “….I will be his God,” (vs 7) indicating that it was God himself speaking here to John. Jesus is not indicated (in RED) as the person speaking to John claiming to be God. Clearly it was God speaking to John.

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

I hope this finds you well, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece and wanted to put in my 2 cents. It seems that you have a two-fold problem. First, you believe that there is no biblical witness to support the divinity or Christ. And secondly, you appear to have a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the trinity. I actually think that it is your later problem, that contributes to your original problem. And this is why.

No one would argue that there are obscure, to say the least, references to the divinity of Christ in the NT, it is more clearly laid out in the prophesies of the OT. And that being said, there are difficult verses describing the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Both objections you bring up. But both of these can be explained and there is enough Scriptural evidence to believe in both. Not only that, but historically speaking this is the overwhelming view of the Church throughout history. If people had it a little wrong it would have come up by now.

But for all of these points you write :”Yet for all this, I would insist that there is no evidence that the apostles ever deviated form the strict unitary monotheism of the Jewish fathers.” And this is where you fall off. It appears that you have stumbled over the idea that the Trinity can be one God, and yet three interpersonal persons. That is the difficulty in trying to explaing the Trinity. There is so much mystery, it defies our ability to fully comprehend or grasp it. And it seems that understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity is not orthodox, so your conclusion is that Christ is not divine. I think if you understand the doctrine of the trinity correctly, in its historical setting. Then you would realize why the Church has testified to the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, for the last 2000 years.

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

This was exactly what I was thinking about when I decided to return to this site!  I won’t re-hash most of what has already been said.  I do have some thoughts/questions…

1 - Why is it so important for Jesus to be thought of as a god?  Certainly being Messiah is nothing to sneeze at?  I’m not being saracastic.  I mean this with all respect. 

2 - How could Jesus be god if he prayed to God?

3 - Wasn’t Jesus’ role to preach God’s religion (judaism)?  This would be monotheism.  It would have been blasphamy to even imply that he was god.

4 - The first commandment forbids worship of any god but God.  Right?

Respectfully.

Re: Jesus is not God Almighty

Thank you for your opinion. Respectfully The world has m… that is all you have provided me. Unless you can be more specific as to what comment I made that was in error or not true I can not just blindly accept your unsupported opinion as factual and possibly it is true but you need to be able to prove it.

For the most part the gentlemen who started this thread were pretty well versed and provided strong supporting scripture. I do plan to submit several more filings which address other issues which I did not see addressed prior. But at this point until you can be more specific and point out what specific statement I allegedly misstated and provide me with your supporting scripture or some other specific comparison or logical justification we can not help each other let alone anyone else seeking truth.

The truth is often not popular:

There is one God, and One begotten Son of God (the man Jesus) that makes TWO. Furthermore God is a Holy Spirit and thus they are one in the same and I will explain that in a minute.

I am completing a writting (free) which may help your apparent misunderstanding of what I believe about this thing you call “Trinity” which in no way indicates Three Gods or three co-equal God beings. However you may try to explain it, you cannot logically explain Trinity without contradiction and that is why it is so difficult for man to explain this flawed theory.

 

 

It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. ~ Adrian Rodgers .

 

 

Understanding What The Holy Ghost Is And Does

We first need to identify God’s many attributes as it relates to the Holy Ghost, what it is, where it comes from and what it actually does (its purpose). In order to do this we first need to understand that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God and the Holy Ghost, are all one in the same and regardless of which description is being used they are all expressions of God.

To begin with, the Greek word in the Bible for Spirit is the same as it is for Ghost.

DEFINITION: Both Spirit or Ghost: Greek; πνεῦμα   Transliteration: (pneuma) <G4151>

(Ref. Strong’s concordance) from <G4154> (pneo); a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figurative a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implicaiton) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, dæmon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy Spirit :- ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind. Compare <G5590> (psuche).

—Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

This Ghost (or Spirit) is Holy (of God).  The Bible often reflects this type of phenomenon as a movement of the Holy Ghost (God) acting upon or within a believer.

1.      2 Peter 1:20,21  “… no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”

2.      Acts 1:16 “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”

3.  1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

4.  1 Thessalonians 4:8 “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.”

5.  Psalm 51:10-11 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”

6.   1Corinthians 12:3-6 “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

7.   Acts 5:3, 4 “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?  4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.”

 

 

This should provide you with a good starting point.

Next although it has been covered well I might add this bit of comment

 

 

—- The Expressions Of God

 

While the “Word” does not specifically mean “Torah” I do agree that the Torah contains the Word (logos) or “word of God”, but so does the Holy Bible.

 

I understand that the Word (logos- thought/will) of God always existed. It being one of the three “expressions” of God (Father, Word, Holy Ghost) which cannot be separated from God without it being the same expression of God wherever it is used, be it in the bible or within flesh or anywhere. These expressions of God, as used in the bible, are abstract reflections of God (who is an invisible spirit).

These unique conceptual expressions of God where made manifest in many ways, flesh was just one way the word (logos) of God was manifested.

 

 

In the beginning:

 

1. the “logos” (word-thought/will) of God was “spoken” (God said…., etc..); and

2. the “logos” (word-thought/will) of God was “written” (the 10 commandments)

1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.

500 BC: The Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up the Old Testament

 

3. the “logos” (Word-thought/will) of God was “made flesh” (in Jesus Christ);

4. the “logos” (word-thought/will) of God was “written” (in the New testament)

1st Century AD: Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The New Testament.

 

 

 

Definition of Abstract = Words that refer to ideas or concepts

Expressing a particular property of an object viewed apart from the other properties which constitute it; — opposed to concrete; as, honesty is an abstract word.

 

For example we say: God is Love, God is Truth, God is Life, etc…

These are all abstract descriptions/ideas/terms of “what” God is. We do not “literally” substitute these abstract descriptions and insert the word God in its place we would then be saying God is God. Although true this is not what these expressions are reflecting. They are used to describe attributes of God.

 

Similarly (God is the Father) (God is the Word) (God is the Holy Ghost) (God is the Holy Spirit)

Again, we are not using these abstract descriptions of God just to be saying God is God. Although true again this is not what these “abstract terms” are stating. They are used to describe attributes of God. God is a Holy Spirit, God is the word of life, truth, power, God is the father of all creation, etc…

 (adj.).Abstract is considered apart from concrete existence, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea or an abstract concept. (a metaphor is considered an abstract idea)

 

A concrete name is a name which stands for a thing; (spirit, bible, man, etc…)

An abstract name stands for an attribute of a thing; (Holy, faithful, just, evil, almighty, etc…)

An abstract idea stands for an attribute of a thing; (the lamb of God, the Word, etc..)

Anything abstract is not concrete; you cannot physically hold it. It is an expression of something or someone.  (The lamb was not literally a four legged wooly animal, thus it is figurative or a metaphor)

 

 

 

 

The Word Was Made Flesh

 

Now in considering John 1:14, (the Word was madeG1096flesh) G1096 is found spoken figuratively.

 

When comparing companion verses this has to be figuratively spoken to harmonize. God’s Word (message) came from within a man (Jesus) that God made, God stated man could not see him however God being spirit can indwell in any vessel (man) & did in Jesus , who was the vessel God used .

 

1.      John 5:37 “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (clearly Jesus was talking, not God  ) 

  1. John 3:33-35 “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.”
  2. John 14:10 “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
  3. John 14: 24 “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” (Jesus states here that God’s words are not his words)
  4. John 8:28 “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”       This is what a Father God (or Holy Ghost ) does teaches us  the right words or message to speak
  5. John 4:21-24 “Jesus saith unto her,……… 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
  6. John 6:46 “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” 

 

Again I would suggest you review the thread for much information is contained within. If you still feel that I have stated something in error feel free to contact me or one of the gentlemen who may be better able to explain these issues more clearly and fully to you.

 

As you have heard from others Jesus is our Lord and Savior and that is nothing to sneeze at as man’s salvation is based upon this belief or hope that because a man (Jesus) was raised from the dead by God for atonement of our sins we likewise (who believe) will also be resurrected to join him in heaven with our heavenly father for eternity when he returns for us.

 

 


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