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Is Jesus God? April 25, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion, spirituality, Theology.
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How does one classify a cult? From my perspective a cult is defined more by actions than beliefs. Cults exist when leaders “lord” over the followers. Cults are about control or manipulation. In cults, church decisions are made by a few leaders or a single leader and those decisions even bleed over into the personal lives of the followers. Cults are normally built around a personality. In other words, many churches, especially those in the independent, charismatic circles have many cultic tendencies and are, at a minimum, what I call “personality cults.”

However, the typical measuring stick used by the evangelical church to determine who is labeled a cult is the question of the deity of Christ. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two groups that immediately come to mind. Both of these groups do not believe that Jesus is God and do not subscribe to the concept of the trinity and as a result are labeled by many as cults.

I’ve always wondered why this particular “essential belief” was so important. After all, a casual reading of the gospels would not immediately lead one to the conclusion that Jesus was God. Even the epistles contain very few references to this ever so important doctrine. Church history, also shows an evolution of this belief over a span of time.

Then why are we so dogmatic about this belief? Any logical individual can see that a case can be made using a large volume of scriptural text that Jesus is not God. In other words, there is definitely room for debate on this subject. It is NOT a clear cut conclusion.

I’m not really trying to get to an answer to this question in this particular post. I’m simple trying to ask what I feel is a valid question that many of us have probably contemplated. We’ve all done the explanations of the trinity to a skeptic using a variety of different concepts. At times, it made so much sense and at other times, I’m sure we’ve all thought deep down- who am I kidding?

If Jesus is not God, does that invalidate his teachings? Does it make them any less valuable to us? What does it do to the doctrine of the atonement?

There are so many questions and sometimes so few clear answers.

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Comments»

1. Rob V. - April 25, 2007

roopster,

There is absolutely Scripture that proves Jesus is God! The greatest example is in the book of John, where Jesus says “I AM” dozens of times. “I AM” said with such authority as he did was earth-shattering to the ears of the Jews. Why? Because 1500 years earlier when Moses asked God for His name, He said “I AM” (which is YHWH or Yahweh). It is so holy a name Jews didn’t even say it (many still don’t). BUT JESUS DID. OFTEN. “I AM the Resurrection, I AM the Bread of Life.” At one point He even said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” You don’t say “I AM” unless you’re God. The Jews accused Him of blasphemy, which is why they called for His execution.

Either Jesus was lying, crazy or God. Take your pick. Just don’t call Him only a nice guy with good principles.

2. roopster - April 25, 2007

Rob V.,

I agree that one can use those scriptures to prove the divinity of Christ. However, there are also a ton of Scriptures that one can use to show he’s not God. My point in the post is that it’s NOT that clear cut in scripture so why damn people to hell for not believing it?

Paul

3. Rob V. - April 25, 2007

“There are also a ton of Scriptures that one can use to show he’s not God.”

You’ll have to show me those Scriptures

“why damn people to hell for not believing it?”

Because if you don’t believe that God became a human being in order for a sinless human being to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all, then you can’t be considered a Christian. That’s what Christianity IS. Only GOD is sinless, only GOD could have the power to rise from the dead.

4. Scotti - April 25, 2007

I love the story of the woman at the well in the Book of John. It is so interesting to me that the first time Jesus himself reveals that He is the Messiah, is to the Samaritan woman.

John 4:25-26 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Wow! Can you imagine? The prophets of old foretold the coming of the Annointed Son of God, The Son of the Blessed One, The Messiah, The Christ, The Savior of the World and there He was in the flesh!

The deity of Jesus Christ is claimed over and over throughout the bible. If Jesus is not fully God, than we have no salvation and no Christianity. Yes, there is still value in His teachings for this earthly life, but without His perfect sacrifice, we do not have atonement for our sins, without which we are separated from God. Praise the Lord, for His amazing plan of redemption.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you always,
Scotti

5. roopster - April 26, 2007

Wow guys. You really believe that Jesus=God is the central truth of Christianity and without it, it all falls apart?

Rob V.,

Jesus constantly referred to his God, his Father in heaven.

John 8:28
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

Matthew 10:32
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 11:25
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

Matthew 7:21
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Mark 10:18 is also a bit confusing:

18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

I understand you can have an explanation for all of this. My point isn’t that. My point is that it’s easy for someone to conclude that Jesus is not God and use scripture to prove it. If it’s NOT clear, why is it such an essential that salvation hinges on that one belief and God will send me to hell even if I accept Christ as my savior by believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead, confessing he is Lord with my mouth but have my doubts about the deity of Christ.

Is that what you all are saying?

Paul

6. Peter - April 26, 2007

Sir Paul;

Trying to not just react by saying you have a different Jesus then…

Your scriptures above only point to a relationship, one that has existed since at least this world began with a “Let us make…”.
Now anyone that remotely thinks they have the Godhead figured (not a fan of “trinity” as the Word never says it) would be nuts.
That our Creator is way more complex than us and has not yet shown us, or more likely we do not have the capacity yet to understand Him, should not be surprising.

That said, as you clearly do not want to get into a verse volley, I want to comment on your last paragraph.

The Word clearly shows from cover to cover that only He is worthy of any worship.
Angels constantly have to rebuke us.
Indeed, if you move from animism and the like, near every religion from Mohammadism to Judaism to JW’s and all say that only God can be worshiped.
Jesus himself said to call no-one Lord, master, teacher.
So you then have some dude, different than the angelic class, between them and deity (starting to sound like J Smith’s little hallucination now) who lived perfect somehow ’cause he had some sort of mojo, allowed worship of Himself, while on the earth, and certainly after He went to the heavens , allowed the whole created order to worship Him, ’cause He either had earned it by passing through some rite or again ’cause He is some sort of mid-being.
Now when pressed, Jesus never backed down from His deity.
But He never flaunted it.
(In that way He was the coolest dude ever, hah!)
He came for those of us who know we are a mess, the sick (mostly of ourselves) who know they need Him.
He then reveals Himself to us through His Word and the Comforter.
Would you be turned aside before you recognized who He is?
Don’t think so.
But when pressing in further and getting to know Him further, He is Who He is…indescribable, but certainly God; always was, always will be, the Lamb forever.

You cannot worship any other than God.
If He is your Lord, then He must be.

But I don’t think He is worried about making it any clearer.
If you seek Him you will find Him.
Amazing that He never chased after anyone, never went into apologetic mode.
If you need Him, you will get to know Him.
If you are fine in yourself, then He walks away.

Got the feeling you know Him though.

Some dude named Peter

7. Heather - April 27, 2007

**If Jesus is not God, does that invalidate his teachings? Does it make them any less valuable to us? What does it do to the doctrine of the atonement?**

I would say it doesn’t invalidate Jesus’s teachings or make them less valuable. For one thing, I do think Jesus’s claim to be God is incredibly vague — he is constantly telling people to worship God and how to worship God. When I look at how the word “Logos” was used back then, how that John one can be translated in adjective form, in terms of ‘What God was, the Word was,” when I look that Paul is constantly thanking God, through Jesus, not thanking Jesus directly … it’s vague. Plus, Paul was Jewish. That would be a huge jump for him. There’s also the fact that Hebrew has more than one word for ‘Lord’ and the term ‘worship’ is also used in a form of prostration … still vague. Does denying the son mean denying that the son is God, or just denying that the son is the son of God?

To me, Christianity is more than a set of beliefs — it’s about actions, too. No, this is not saying ‘saved through works.’ But you are supposed to be able to tell who a Christian is based on how they behave, and see that grace working through one’s life. If a Mormon is loving his/her enemies, and a Christian ignores people that beg him/her for help yet believes that Jesus is God, who is the one who knows God?

8. roopster - April 27, 2007

Peter,

Thanks for resisting 🙂 Remember, I am not saying that Jesus is not God. I’m simply exploring the question whether or not one can follow Rom. 10:9,10 and follow it with the actions Heather described but not accept Jesus as God with certainty and God would send them to hell because of that one simple belief.

Heather,

Why didn’t Paul clearly teach that Jesus is God? It’s very vague in his teachings. Remember he is teaching *new* believers and one would think he’d lay out this important doctrine without the shadow of a doubt. He never speaks of the virgin birth or many of the other proofs we have about the deity of Christ.

I agree with Christianity being about actions. Really, that is the bottom line of this blog. I’m trying to question if God is so petty that he’d send someone to hell because of one simply incorrect belief. That’s what our denominations teach and they all have their “you must believe this or else” statements… Who is right? Who determines what is the proper interpretation of scripture? If scripture does not clearly say something with several clear passages then can we make it an essential? Where do we find Jesus clearly saying “I am God?” Where does Paul clearly state “Jesus is God in the flesh?” I’ve read the opposing arguments and they have valid points.

Paul

9. Heather - April 27, 2007

Paul,

**Why didn’t Paul clearly teach that Jesus is God? ** That has always confused me as well, because it also goes back to Paul being Jewish. He should’ve been very, very clear in a statement that said, ‘Jesus is God’ because so many would’ve felt he didn’t feel Jesus is God. That, and he was teaching Gentiles, so he should’ve felt more free to say that Jesus is God. I also don’t think it’s clear cut because it took quite a while for it to be a belief, and a few centuries for the belief to become canon.

** I’m trying to question if God is so petty that he’d send someone to hell because of one simply incorrect belief. That’s what our denominations teach and they all have their “you must believe this or else” statements…** I have a very hard time believing that because the behavior is simply too human. If God is infinite, just, all-loving and that far above us, then God isn’t that petty. Paul is very clear on what the fruit of the Spirit is, and I’ve seen it in Mormons (no, I’m not one, nor am I a JW). I’ve seen it in athiests, in Muslims, and in people who don’t subscribe to every Christian belief.

**Who determines what is the proper interpretation of scripture?** People. Because that is really what it comes down to. Look at Constantine and how he made people determine canon — it was a difficult task.

I don’t think there’s no Christianity if Jesus isn’t God. The Resurrection is what makes or breaks Christianity, as stated by Paul.

10. Scotti - April 27, 2007

Hi Heather,

Just following up on your last statement. Yes, the Resurrection is proof that Jesus is who He said He was indeed. But it is not a complete picture without including His perfect sacrificial atoning death on the cross for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. This is the Good News! The gospel contains both important facts (His atoning death and His resurrection).

Hebrew 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like (us) in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

May God’s grace be with you. Amen.
Scotti

11. amandalaine - April 27, 2007

I unfortunately didn’t read all comments extremely thoroughly but have a few thoughts. Paul did state clearly that Jesus is God. I’m not sure where this idea that he didn’t is coming from. (Read Colossians primarily but also Phillipians). Yes, the entire Christian faith hangs on this belief. There is nothing more important or central. And no it did not develop over time. If it did, you should doubt and leave your Christian faith.

Why is a belief so important? This seems to be the underlying idea you’re getting at. It’s a great question. Let’s imagine someone named “Jim” who loves someone who he refers to as Amanda. He loves Amanda because Amanda likes football, likes nachos, loves sports in general, and just having a good time. Now lets say Amanda really exists. She knows Jim. She knows that Jim is really into her. However, magically, Jim is a complete moron who has misjudged Amanda – she doesn’t like football, nachos, sports, or having a good time at the expense of never having an intellectual conversation. Does Jim really love Amanda? Nope. He loves a mirage – he loves an Amanda that does not exist. He has misconceived Amanda. Will she return his love and enthusiasm? No. Jim doesn’t even know her. How could she?

It’s the same with God (or any other entity/oject/thing). You can say His name – “God.” But you have a completely different entity depending on what you believe about Him. This is why belief is so important.

If I have an oven, but think it’s a refrigerator, am I ever going to heat things up in it? Nope. If I have a car, but think it’s my house, am I ever going to go anywhere? No. These are absurd ideas but they make my point – belief is EVERYTHING.

12. Heather - April 27, 2007

Hi, Scott.

**But it is not a complete picture without including His perfect sacrificial atoning death on the cross for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. This is the Good News! ** I don’t see that as the fundamental point of Christianity. I see it playing a part, yes. But that leaves me with God can only forgive sins through a bloody sacrifice, and that is nowhere in the OT at all. God had other ways of forgiving. The Prodigal Son parable is also one such example — the father forgave without any sort of sacrifice.

Amanda,

**Paul did state clearly that Jesus is God. I’m not sure where this idea that he didn’t is coming from. (Read Colossians primarily but also Phillipians). ** I think some of the Colossian verses you’re referring to is “He is the visible image of the invisible God.” (1:15) and “For it pleased God to have his full being live in his son” (1:19) and “For in him, bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is.” (2:9), among others. I don’t find those clear-cut, because that is not Paul just saying, straight-out, Jesus is God. It could also be interpreted as we see who God is through Jesus, just as we could see who a parent is, or what the parent is like, through the actions of the child. For God living fully in Jesus — well, that could be true that God lives in all people in a way, based on man being made in God’s image and likeness, or that people live and move and have their being in God. There’s also the fact that the concept of ‘Logos’ is very similar to the concept of wisdom presented in Proverbs.

I think the main Philippians verse you’re referring to is “Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God …” (It starts in 2:6). I don’t see that as clear-cut, because what ‘form’ would Paul be referring to? God is a Spirit, so it can’t be referring to the flesh, or what we physically saw. And does the fact one item (item B) is in the form of item A necessarily mean that item B and item A are the same?

**And no it did not develop over time. If it did, you should doubt and leave your Christian faith. ** For many early Christians, that belief did develop over time. That’s why there were so many sects of Christianity, and why Constantine evetually told them to assemble an Orthodox belief.

**These are absurd ideas but they make my point – belief is EVERYTHING.** I also disagree with this (which probably surprises no one at this point. 🙂 ) Based on the reading of the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus didn’t seem too concerned with belief — the parable of the sheep and the goats is one such example.

13. amandalaine - April 28, 2007

Thanks for your thoughts Heather. Regarding Jesus not actually being God, why would we be called to worship Him? That’s blasphemy. If He’s not God, we really pay Him way too much attention. He is given too high a place in the NT. This is idolatry.

“But that leaves me with God can only forgive sins through a bloody sacrifice, and that is nowhere in the OT at all.” I would have to say that it is all over the OT. That is the point of the OT sacrifices, rituals, and careful steps they had to take. In fact, Hebrews, in the NT, pulls together the symbolic nature of those acts in the OT and Jesus’ sacrifice in NT to explain that to us.

I don’t wish to be argumentative. Just wanted to make a few points. 🙂

14. Heather - April 28, 2007

Amanda,

**Regarding Jesus not actually being God, why would we be called to worship Him? ** Honestly … I’m not sure we are, in a way. Because in the Gospels, he is very much directing the attention away from the temple and the Pharisees, and back to God. And Jesus is his ‘voice’ in a way — a way for people to see how God truly acts, through Jesus. He would have a high place in the NT, as the son of God and the Messiah. He would also be given a high place because of how he emobided the Word/wisdom of God. Even with Paul — he thanks God a lot, through Jesus Christ. He doesn’t necessarily seem to be worshiping Jesus. But there would be a lot of attention paid to Jesus, because that’s how God was demonstrating Himself to the world.

**I would have to say that it is all over the OT. That is the point of the OT sacrifices, rituals, and careful steps they had to take. ** I may not have been clear in my statement — the OT does have a sacrificial element in removing sins, yes, and that is heavily shown in the first five books. But the sacrifice of blood is not the *only* method in there for forgiving sins. God can forgive, and did, without a blood-sacrifice. Hosea has such a mention, as do some of the Psalms, as well as other places. Even Jesus makes mention of it with the, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Sorry, I don’t have the exact reference with me, but I believe it’s in one of the Synoptics).

You’re not being argumenative. Conversations like this are a natural response to different viewpoints. 🙂

15. LaShawn - April 29, 2007

Personally, I don’t believe that Jesus was God, but don’t think that invalidates his teachings. He taught us much about justice, humility, and how to live a positive lifestyle. Early Christianity was about how one lived, and one’s actions more so than beliefs. They tended to the sick, and opened their arms to the poor when most religious groups turned their backs to them.

The idea that an ultimate being such as God would favor one person over another, purely because of their beliefs, and with no regards for their actions, sounds ridiculous. That doctrine seems more like humanity’s competitive/elitist side speaking rather than divinity to me.

But, that’s just my two cents on the matter, and I don’t expect anyone to agree.

16. roopster - April 30, 2007

[Jesus] taught us much about justice, humility, and how to live a positive lifestyle. Early Christianity was about how one lived, and one’s actions more so than beliefs. They tended to the sick, and opened their arms to the poor when most religious groups turned their backs to them.

Too bad there’s not more of this type of Christianity in today’s world. We need it.

We do tend to focus on minors and forget the majors, don’t we? That’s the point of this blog.

Paul

17. roopster - April 30, 2007

Heather,

Great thoughts, as usual.

Paul

18. amandalaine - May 1, 2007

Heather,

Do you believe in two Gods then, since Jesus is equal to God?

19. Heather - May 1, 2007

Amanda,

I don’t believe Jesus is equal to God, so no. I believe in one God. If the response to this is that Jesus and his Father are one, Jesus also said that his disiciples should be one, just as he and his Father are one.

20. Shane - May 3, 2007

Roopster, interesting dialogue. Here’s a thougth, why don’t you take the time and ask Jesus. He will answer you 🙂
Blessings…

21. Roz - May 4, 2007

Greetings,

This is my kind of discussion. Here’s my input on whether Jesus is God:

1. God is Spirit. This Spirit is universal. Thus, the Spirit that is God is manifest in ALL things, in ALL people. So, yes, Jesus is God, but so are we. It is both arrogant and ignorant to think we can limit or contain God to one person.

2. I AM is in all of us. I AM is who we really are. When Jesus spoke of I AM, he wasn’t speaking of his physical self as such. He was referring to the Spirit (God) within.

There’s a lot more territory to cover on this one. But for brevity’s sake I’ll stop here.

Peace,
Roz

22. amandalaine - May 4, 2007

Heather,

You said earlier

“… the main Philippians verse you’re referring to is “Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God …” (It starts in 2:6)”

You disagree with this?

Regarding no blood to be necessary for removal of sin, do you reject Hebrews? “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22).

How many “supreme authorities” do you think there are in the universe? Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the Lord Jesus Christ. I looked up “Lord” and it means supreme authority.

What about Hebrews 1?

What about Matthew 28:19? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” These three are treated as equal. They are not? Nobody can be compared to God or even come close and yet Jesus is given such high honor. This is either extreme blasphemy or He is God.

Also, what about the passage (in all three of the synoptic gospels) in which Jesus heals the lame man BUT first forgives his sin. How can anyone forgive sins? Only God can forgive. In fact this is the point of the passage – it says so.

Why do you think the Jews killed Jesus?

By the way, while I obviously believe Jesus is God, I don’t think the Trinity is easy to understand or simple in anyway. But who would imagine that the God of the universe is simple?

23. Heather - May 4, 2007

Amanda,

**“… the main Philippians verse you’re referring to is “Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God …” (It starts in 2:6)”** I don’t disagree with that. As I said earlier, what does it mean to be in the ‘form’ of God, especially if God is Spirit? If we’re all made in the image and likeness of God, then we’re all made in God’s form, but since we’re made by God, we can’t be equal with God. I agree with the passage, but I don’t see it as justification for Jesus being God.

**Regarding no blood to be necessary for removal of sin, do you reject Hebrews? “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22).** The problem is that there’s no support for that in the Old Testament, which is what Hebrews was basing this justification on. There are verses that specifically say God doesn’t want sacrifices, or to be forgiven one only needs to repent and seek God. There were ways God forgave without shedding blood. And given that Hebrews was basing that entire justification from the Old Testament sacrificial system, saying that “there’s no forgiveness without the shedding of blood” is close to inserting something new (I’m actually thinking that the Hebrew context was more along the lines of how sacrifice was originally understood. Through the shedding of blood, the soul or ‘life-essence’ was released, which would then act as a cleansing agent for the sin, and make the life of Jesus available to all. The reason why it was this way is because there’s no way Christianity would’ve survived without the Resurrection, which was proof of God’s power over sin and death. And the best proof would be through a public, humiliating death, in showing the ultimate way the world had of killing someone, and how it didn’t even come close to matching God’s power).

**which Jesus heals the lame man BUT first forgives his sin. How can anyone forgive sins? Only God can forgive.** Isn’t there a difference, though, between saying, “I forgive your sins” and “Your sins are forgiven”? Besides, he had a direct access to God — wouldn’t he know that God forgave the sins and thus speak accordingly? And if he to be God’s spokesperson and authority, wouldn’t God grant Jesus the right to forgive sins? John 20:23 has the apostles given the power to forgive sin, through the Holy Spirit.

**How many “supreme authorities” do you think there are in the universe? Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the Lord Jesus Christ. I looked up “Lord” and it means supreme authority. ** Supreme authority in what way and in what context? The term Lord is also used in the OT for human rulers, and in saying that Jesus is Lord, it is refuting that Caeser was Lord, who also went around claiming a divine status. I touch on this later in the Hebrews section, but many ‘Lords’ were called as such because of power given to them by God.

**What about Matthew 28:19? “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” These three are treated as equal.** Not really. The text doesn’t say that they are equal, it’s only a possible inference. There’s also the fact that ‘name’ stood for authority, and all three of those did have authority, in descending order. (Plus, in Acts, did any of the disicples actually do that when baptizing people?) But why couldn’t God’s Son that He created perfectly and in His own nature, and who was perfectly obedient, have honor given that was similiar to God’s? That doesn’t make them equal. Proverbs 8 gives high honors to the concept of ‘wisdom,’ and yet there is a clear difference between her and God.

**What about Hebrews 1? ** Hebrews 1 — first, there are instances where humans are referred to as God. John 10:35 is an example, when it quotes from a Psalms that used ‘elohim’ as judges (Psalm 82, which would use ‘theos’ in the Greek version). I believe Moses is also referred to as a god in Exodus 7 — a god (elohim) unto Pharoh. The word was used in a variety of situations, to cover those in authority, or people speaking for God. So I would read Hebrews as the Word being referred to a being with great authority given by God (the Father). Another translation is also “God is thy throne for ever and ever …” I would especially read this in light of Hebrews 9, with “God who is thy God,” which would put Christ in a ‘lesser’ position.

**Why do you think the Jews killed Jesus?** I think Jesus was killed because he was a threat to the system currently in place. He was removing the authority of the temple, and he was calling for a change in how the religious authorities actually behaved.

24. Heather - May 4, 2007

Roz,

I agree with your example, and you’ve summed up how it view it in a lot less words. 🙂

25. amandalaine - May 7, 2007

Thanks Heather. There’s still the book of John to contend with (specifically chapter 5) but I won’t bring all that up.

You don’t believe in the Trinity? How do you explain Genesis 1:26?

Or, how do you explain Isaiah 9:6?

Anyway, I’ll quit bringing it up. Thanks for your responses.

26. amandalaine - May 7, 2007

Oh, forgot an important verse. The Bible does ascribe worship to Jesus therefore He is either God or the Bible prescribes blasphemy: Phillipians 2:10 and 11.

How can we worship two different beings?

27. Heather - May 7, 2007

Amanda,

**How do you explain Genesis 1:26?** Many scholars agree that God was using the royal ‘we,’ and referring to the heavenly court. To say that ‘elohim’ refers to three-in-one is, to me, stretching it, because there’s no evidence of that. Especially since Moses is later referred to as ‘elohim,’ so it can be used to refer to a singular person.

**Or, how do you explain Isaiah 9:6?** ‘the mighty God’ which is ‘El Gabor.’ But again, the Old Testament has references to people being referred to as ‘God,’ which could be a name/title. It says that the person’s name shall be, not that the person actually is a mighty God. ‘Gabriel’ for instance — the name means ‘mighty God.’

**The Bible does ascribe worship to Jesus therefore He is either God or the Bible prescribes blasphemy: Phillipians 2:10 and 11.** Again, it depends on how ‘worship’ is used. The word for worship also means to prostrate one’s self, or bow down — and this action was done to many of the prophets in the OT.

Phillipians 2: 10-11. It says at the name of Jesus, everyone will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It doesn’t say that everyone is worshipping Jesus, nor does it say that everyone is bowing to Jesus. Bowing to someone is not the same as worshiping that person.

It basically comes down to this: I’ve researched this quite a bit — the origins of Christianity and the Bible, what the writers were trying to convey, how the words were understood back then, and a Judaic concept of God. I’m not discounting passages from the Bible, or ignoring them. I’ve looked at all the verses that support the Trinity and I find them vague.

However, you want to stop bringing it up, so I wish you well. 🙂

28. amandalaine - May 9, 2007

Yeah, I said I was going to stop bringing it up, but I can’t help it! 🙂

What do you do with John 5:18?

Some conversations can go on forever, even though they’re worth it. I just thought it was good to end it at some point. However, I did want to say that many of your arguments above contain, what I would call, very very shaky elements. I could point them out… but, I don’t want to continue forever. So, obviously, I completely disagree with you but appreciate your answers. (My Gen argument and “supreme” argument – I just through those in for fun – those aren’t central to my argument.)

So, John 5:18?

29. Heather - May 9, 2007

Amanda,

John 5:18: I see it that it can be intepreted as speaking for God, such as a child carrying the authority for his/her parent (which is supported by the rest of John, with Jesus saying that he can only do what the Father does, and the Father in a way has given the Son the authority to give life to men). The problem I have is that the verse says Jesus claimed God as his own Father — which is something Christians do. The verse doesn’t have Jesus saying he was God, or even the son, and in other contexts when ‘equal’ is used, it means that the person who is equal is a stand-in for the one who gives authority. I find it much more likely that the Pharisees were infuriated that Jesus claimed to speak for God when everyone knew that only the Pharisees could guide people to truth.

30. amandalaine - May 11, 2007

Thanks Heather! You’ve put up with a lot of questions from me. Really appreciate it. Got another one, of course.

What’s your take on John 1? This, probably, is the prime text used by those who support Jesus’ deity. All that’s absolutely necessary for their argument is verse 1 and 14. The Word was God… and the Word became flesh.

Paul, your question on why this is vague? Well, there are deeper questions. Why is any of it vague? A casual reading of the Bible, as a whole, will not get you the gospel. It’s a difficult, complex book. Why did Jesus speak in parables with the STATED intention of hiding truth? Better yet, why did Jesus come to earth when He did and not any earlier? People before that time had no/little access to grace. I believe the answer is found in several concepts: 1) the fact that we’re created/derivative beings that have only the rights given to us, and 2) the preservation of our free will.

31. Heather - May 11, 2007

Hi, Amanda.

What I’ve seen from that verse is that there’s no direct article in front of ‘theos’ when it’s used the third time. So it’s more of an adjective describing how the Word relates to God — as in, both share the same qualities, but aren’t the same quantity. So it could also read, “What God was, the Word was.” (This could lead into the statement the Word would be all-powerful and all-knowing and such. The problem with that is that Jesus states elsehwere there are things he doesn’t know that only the Father does, and that things/powers are given to Jesus/Word by the Father. So it really seems to more focus on the wisdom/light/truth aspect. Which would make sense, given that ‘Logos’ could also mean Logic/Reason).

The other thing I’ve seen is that the way the ‘Logos’ is used in the Gospel of John mirrors how ‘Sophia/wisdom’ was used by the Jews — but ‘wisdom’ wasn’t the same as God, but wisdom was there from the beginning. Wisdom was God’s way of communicating to the world (I believe there’s a verse or two in the Synoptic Gospel where Jesus refers to himself as wisdom’s child).

So with the Word being made flesh is the same as wisdom becoming flesh, given people the most direct way possible of experiencing God. It was finally on the same level, with something people could physically see.

32. Brendan - May 12, 2007

I have used “I AM” with authority millions of times in my life. Anyone who uses language to organize fragments of reality is THE Creator. Thus, everyone who thinks or says “I am” is “God.” When one objectifies the creative power of language and thought as a relationship to a thing outside of thought, one is simply worshiping one’s self.

33. amandalaine - May 21, 2007

Thanks Heather.

Wanted to let you know I read your comments.

🙂

34. cragar - June 21, 2007

Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are two groups that immediately come to mind. Both of these groups do not believe that Jesus is God and do not subscribe to the concept of the trinity and as a result are labeled by many as cults.

I’ve always wondered why this particular “essential belief” was so important.

As you can tell I am going through your older posts today 😉

I can’t speak about Mormon’s, but I have been to a number of JW meetings and can tell you a little about them. I don’t think their reasoning is that difficult. They do throw out the trinity (and if you read a little history on JW’s there is quite a bit of controversy on their NWT translation), but overall it is simpler IMO. They believe Jesus is the literal son of God (Jehovah), and even in their prayers they often include “…thank you for sending your one and only son to forgive our sins,” very similar to prayers of other churches from when I was a kid but just with a different twist.

We’ve all done the explanations of the trinity to a skeptic using a variety of different concepts. At times, it made so much sense and at other times, I’m sure we’ve all thought deep down- who am I kidding?

I always had a problem with the trinity (and once again, I wanted to believe, I almost went to Trinity University in San Antonio). You are taught Jesus is the son of God, but then their is the Holy Ghost, and God himself, they make up one. So is Jesus the son of God or God? I don’t believe in either, but the JW way is much easier to digest.

35. Rev. Dr Jason John - August 29, 2007

Thanks for starting this post, and all the contributions. I’m mostly with Heather I guess. Seeing our canon not as “the bible” but as a collection of biblical witnesses to God allows us to be clear that the biblical authors disagreed about exactly who Jesus was and how he was related to God. No suprise there, they disagree on many things, which should encourage us as a church which disagrees on many things 2000 years later. But if we remain true fundamentalists (Love God, love neighbour, do for others), this needn’t cause the horrible divisions it often has. Throw into the mix the new creation stories we have from evolution, ecology and so on, and it becomes clear that ideas like sin and pain and death entering the world through literal or metaphorical human action are simply incorrect. Therefore ideas of Jesus which address the old creation stories (“For since death entered the world thorugh one man…”) are going to need serious revision.
Finally, how anyone who loves children or people with intellectual disabilities could believe that God will condemn to hell those who cannot articulate the correct theory of atonement or trinity is beyond me.

36. seeker - September 4, 2007

wow, I just stumbled upon this blog and I see lots of intellectual giants here. I am a Christian and one who has experienced the power and the freedom of knowing Christ in my own life. As I discovered what Jesus has done for me and how, in the everyday, he changes my life, I began to tell people about him.

What’s amazing is that as people got to know Jesus, and received him as their Lord and Savior, their lives changed as well. There may be a lot of theological debate going around, but I cannot deny his power in my life and the lives of the people around me.

All I know is I agree with Paul when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

My hope for every seeker like me is for the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and teach us all things. For to everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door shall be opened to them.

All the best to all 🙂

37. Sinikal Saint - October 19, 2007

I don’t have the expertise or energy to go into this nearly as thoroughly as I’d like to, but I’ll throw in what I can. I do think the best understanding of the “Jesus is God, yet the Son of God” concept indeed starts with Gospel of John. Calling Jesus the “Logos” of God was probably a rather provocative move, because of the implications of the term. Hellenistic philosophy, as well as Jewish thought influenced by Hellenism, understood the Logos as, basically, the unifying principle of all existence, or a kind of blueprint of reality. The concept is very much mirrored with the “Sophia” of earlier Jewish thought. It’s also not a far cry from the Jewish understanding of the Torah. To say that the universal, unifying principle of all reality was incarnated among us was a powerful, philosophical and theological statement. It wasn’t quite “Jesus is God,” but it wasn’t far from it.

To the radically monotheistic Jews, and burgeoning monotheistic Gentile “God-fearers,” the concept of the Logos would have had to be identified, or at the very least closely connected with, the concept of a single, all-powerful Creator. The “Logos” was God’s Word, or self-expression. Since God spoke Creation into existence, Creation itself and everything in it are the offspring or handiwork of God’s “Logos.” The Logos “is” God because it’s God’s will, His mind, his thoughts.

Jesus said “When you see Me, you see the Father.” I know this statement could be understood in myriad ways, but I think one good way is to think about authors and writers. One of my favorite authors is Flannery O’Connor. I love Flannery O’Connor. Unfortunately, I can’t hang out with her, because she’s been dead for over forty years. But if I want to know her, I can read her short stories, novels, several essays and countless letters. I’ll get a sense of how she thinks and feels, who she is, because she has expressed her self, she has revealed her self, she has given an expression of what’s in her mind and heart and soul. She has put herself on paper. When I see Ms. O’Connor’s body of written work, I see Flannery O’Connor. In a very real way, when I read everything she’s written, I am interacting with her, I am getting to know her. Are all of her books her? Technically no–they’re not her in the flesh. But they’re her self-expression.

Now, here’s where the analogy gets fuzzy: say I took all of her body of written works and somehow magically transformed it into a person. Like, say I pulled a “Weird Science” and downloaded everything she’s written in some kind of supercomputer and used it to program a simulated girl. I sure hope some people here have seen that movie and understand where I’m getting at. The cyber-magical being that would result… Well, in a way it’s not Flannery O’Connor, but in a way it certainly is. If I wanna know Flannery O’Connor, I can go to her–it’d be basically the same thing. Yet, in a way, you could say this being is Flannery O’Connor’s “daughter,” because she came from her.

I don’t mind resorting to the platonic essence of Christian cop-outs, saying that it’s a “Mystery.” But I hope I shed some sort of light on how the idea of Jesus being God would work. Ta-ta, folks!


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