Divinity – Questioned again?

Okay, I am debating the divinity of Jesus again – this time with people from ‘Stand to Reason’ (link on sidebar). Not sure why I always come back to this topic – but I do.

I will keep it simple.

(a) If a king from another country sent someone to you – to deliver a message – would you consider that person equal to the king?

That’s really the crux of the debate. Everything I read about Jesus is always placed into the idea he was made by God, blessed by God, sent by God, anointed by God, etc. I find it particularily strange someone that would make the claim to be God – needs any of that. How did the messenger become the king?

But this is what we have – NT scriptures being used as justification for the idea Jesus is God. For me, the evidence presented at Nicea, when this trinity idea passed, overlooked some serious pieces of evidence – namely the NT is based in older writings – Judaism. Judaism has never held to an idea of the messiah being anything more than a ‘man’ (and for sure not equal to ‘God’). So to make Jesus into a God-man messiah – has it’s roots in Gentile communities – not Judaism.

No matter the argument used to make Jesus divine – it will always fall short – and should. We are adding to God (and that’s a fact – no matter how some try to juggle the stupid 3 in 1 idea). I think as Christians we want to ‘have the cake and eat it too’ – but you cannot say Jesus = God and have God still being ‘One’ (it’s an argument in futile logic). If Jesus is God and the Father is God – then we have the obvious – God is 2.

Also no one makes any sense of this Jesus is fully God and fully human idea – because by the basest forms of logic he is (a) not human if he is even 1% God and (b) not God because he is a human. All of us humans  would not admit to having aspects of God-hood in us – would we? I am also pretty sure God is not a human – Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent”. I guess God is not a ‘man’ or a ‘son of man’.

It all makes no sense to me how God can move from ‘One’ for so many years prior to Jesus – then all of a sudden – He is 2 – based on rather obscure and limited passages in the NT (which are very few in number and somewhat problematic when looked at). Also, why can’t Jesus just say plainly – or many of the NT writings – straight up and straight out – Jesus is definitively God (no hiddeness). Also one could also say the Tanakh does a good job of hiding this idea also (heck the Jewish faith couldn’t even find it in 3500+ years).

Trinity – are you kidding me?

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14 thoughts on “Divinity – Questioned again?

  1. Well Jason

    I took some time to read your debate over at Stand to Reason, and the first thing that came to mind was De Conversion. It seems to me the more you read up on Judaism and Christianity, the more you seem to be changing from your earlier faith. I think the writings on the wall, Im just wondering how long before you admit it. The Bible and other spiritual texts have some great ideas on how we can live better in community, but as far as it being God talking, I think thats a bit of a stretch. One thing for sure though, it takes a ton of Mental Gymnastics to make either belief system work, you and the guys at STR did an admiral job. 😉

  2. “think the writings on the wall, Im just wondering how long before you admit it.” (John)

    That’s a fair observation. I can say I have parted with the way I used to hold this faith in past years – within the last 3 I have allowed myself to become a true student (seeing all angles of the structure and not just the one’s people want you to see). I admit that I do not hold the same beliefs I held just 3 years ago – and prior to that I was confused or being un-studious.

    I take responsibility for my faith and everything I believe now – I confess I am still a Christian – but a Christian that other Christians would rather ‘stone’ than ‘uplift’.

  3. Jason- I have also allowed myself (even at my age) to become a student. I frequently internally debate with myself on whether I can still be referred to as a “Christian”. But, when I think long and hard about that, I find that I am more concerned with what others think of me than whether an appellation applies. I am with you on the divinity of Jesus and especially the Trinity.

  4. I confess I am still a Christian – but a Christian that other Christians would rather ’stone’ than ‘uplift’.(Jason)

    I didnt know you before, but I will say that I have come to really like and respect who you are as a fellow “Human”. Your questioning has opened up new meanings in my world, far more than any direct connection I have had with many so called “christians”

  5. (a) If a king from another country sent someone to you – to deliver a message – would you consider that person equal to the king?

    Is that all Jesus did? Deliver a message? That would make him just another prophet. The Jews who joined with Jesus knew all about the prophets yet they worshipped Jesus. Hmmm.

    he was made by God, blessed by God, sent by God, anointed by God, etc.

    So was Moses, David, and company, but they made mistakes like men do. Not Jesus. If Jesus was without sin, he was not a “son of man that he must repent”.

    No matter the argument used to make Jesus divine – it will always fall short – and should.

    Sounds like propaganda to me. Perhaps you should read up on the many scholars who went on the journey to discover the true story of Jesus and were soldily convinced he is divine. Simon Greenleaf is a great example, Blaise Pascal another. If you haven’t already closed your mind to the possibility, then you should read up on them and others who were convinced.

    When our candidate loses the election we are forced to confront the reasons why someone would choose the other guy. Likewise, you have to try and understand the arguments from the other side on the divinity of Christ, because your argument has been a losing one on the world stage. Comments like “the Trinity was invented at Nicaea” (false) and “God can’t be one and three” (obtuse) don’t show that you’ve given it much thought, to be frank.

    Also, why can’t Jesus just say plainly – or many of the NT writings – straight up and straight out – Jesus is definitively God (no hiddeness).

    Ahem, why do you think he was crucified? He was punished for claiming to be divine.

    Anyway, you’re a nice guy and you want to include everybody, and so do I. We shouldn’t worry about others because Jesus is not unreasonable. He isn’t like the bridgetender in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who asks the three questions. Take care.

  6. “Is that all Jesus did? Deliver a message? That would make him just another prophet. The Jews who joined with Jesus knew all about the prophets yet they worshipped Jesus. Hmmm.” (Jim)

    Well, the prophecy used about Moses was concerning another prophet ‘like him’ – he must have had these qualities. But my core question is concerning turning Jesus into God. How can God ‘send’ someone called Messiah (anointed one – anointed by whom?) and this person uses Torah/Prophets as justification for his mission – and this person still be God? God is the one calling the shots in each and every scenario – and Jesus clearly admits this through-out the gospels.

    If Jesus says ‘the Father is greater than I’ – does he mean in power? Position? How on earth do we take such a statement – if both are equal as God? Is a piece of God greater than another piece of God? If Jesus says he is on ‘God’s right hand’ – does this mean if there is a throne – Jesus is not sitting on the throne – but at the right hand? Many things Jesus says and attributes to God put him in the place of not being God – should I just ignore those things?

    “If Jesus was without sin, he was not a “son of man that he must repent”.” (Jim)

    Agreed. But it still does say ‘God is not a man…’

    “Likewise, you have to try and understand the arguments from the other side on the divinity of Christ, because your argument has been a losing one on the world stage” (Jim)

    I agree – I have and still need to (you forget I took 4 years in a Bachelor of Theology). On a world stage – but that you mean a Christian stage – this idea has been a flop. Yet if one considers Judaism the fore-runner to the development of the Christian faith – then they are not a flop at all – Judaism has upheld ‘God is One’ much longer (some 2600+ years for sure) than Christianity has upheld adding a man into divinity (some 1800+ years).

    Christianity has some serious issues if you ask me – namely with denial. They deny the claims of Judaism – yet try to claim to be built upon that (which is where this messiah idea actually comes from). They lend no creedance to Judaism and it’s claims to what those scriptures (Tanakh) mean (and what these ideas we use mean) – and they go on their merry way claiming they give them all the accolades.

    Christianity has not considered all the evidence in my opinion – who cares if the church can make these claims for as long as they did – Judaism is claiming this is not true about the Tanakh – for even a longer period of time. Should I believe the Christians because I identify with them? Or should I seek the whole truth and nothing but the truth – including all evidence on the messiah issue?

    My problem isn’t that I do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah (to the chagrin of anyone in the Judaic faith) but that Jesus is not God (to the chagrin of anyone in Christian denoms). Why is that so problematic – maybe the problem is the explanation?

    “Comments like “the Trinity was invented at Nicaea” (false) and “God can’t be one and three” (obtuse) don’t show that you’ve given it much thought, to be frank.” (Jim)

    Then you need to consider more of what I am saying then. If those are weak – this one is not – the 1st commandment is simple ‘you should have no other gods beside/before me’ – Christianity hs no problem with overlooking that commandment. Jesus and God are 2 separate beings – this is plainly admitted in the Nicene Creed and most statements of faith. How is saying we have a trinity (which has at it’s root the number 3) not breaking the idea ‘God is One’? It’s a step away from the 1st commandment – of this I am sure.

    “Ahem, why do you think he was crucified? He was punished for claiming to be divine” (Jim)

    I went through the whole trial thing the other day. He is charged with blasphemy – but blasphemy is a lot more than a claim to be God. I find it funny this is a proof text – Jesus is going to die and knows it – yet he still does not blurt out the obvious ‘ I am God’ – more dancing around the issue (almost as if the author refuses to say it). He could of put this baby to rest forever! Then afterwards – Jewish folk, Pilate, and Roman soldiers all blame him for being the ‘Christ’…not ‘God’.

    I have no problem with the debate Jim – and I do include everyone – but this is not about everyone – this is about what is in them texts of the NT. The claim to be God can only be seen in John (the gospel – and even in there John is confused about this concept) and one time from Paul.

  7. Good stuff… I “appreciate” your Christianity friend ( no stones here ). I resonate with all of your thoughts on the Trinity. Once I stepped away from a trinitarian view and looked back into the text, I found the only Trinity was that which I read in. I understand that much of Christianity won’t agree with my position, but it was disheartening to see how that view would often put me “outside” the fold. I often explain that I say with Peter “[Jesus] is the Christ, the son of the Living God” and that should be enough.

  8. But my core question is concerning turning Jesus into God. How can God ‘send’ someone called Messiah (anointed one – anointed by whom?) and this person uses Torah/Prophets as justification for his mission – and this person still be God?

    What if the Torah/Prophets was about him? What if Jesus used the Torah and the Prophets to convince others about Him? I became a believer in Christ while I was studying the life of Moses in a Bible study group. It dawned on me that the whole Bible is connected because it’s about the redemption of man. In effect, the Bible is the story of Christ.

    You can’t say the Jews never saw this coming. The Lord took on the form of a man and talked to Abraham at Mamre, sat down with Gideon, wrestled with Jacob etc. God is not like our government that spends near an infinite sum but ignores Latin America because it’s fighting a war in Iraq. God is not limited like man and can certainly send a man fully endowed with his wisdom. Read Elihu’s speech in Job 32-37 and you’ll see an example of the Spirit speaking through a man in realtime. In Jesus, God spoke to us over a lifetime.

    the 1st commandment is simple ‘you should have no other gods beside/before me’

    Again you point to another proof of Jesus’s divinity. Jesus did not prop himself up before God. Aside from your “One doesn’t equal three” mantra, you really can’t say that Jesus usurps God’s place in our hearts. In fact, Jesus SECURES

  9. Oops – hit Submit.
    In fact, Jesus SECURES God’s place in our hearts. He puts flesh on the ideal of loving God and putting Him first. Just like a conversion, intellectual assent comes first, then the agreement is put to action – it becomes real. And we know there needs to be a stimulus so that one (agreement) leads to the other (action). We need to be much more than mere Theists.

    I also think you are diminishing the importance of the Presence of God. Jesus taught that if we had “faith like a mustard seed” we could “move mountains”. The point of that is that if we truly have God’s power behind us, we are invincible. We truly must seek Him – no BS. But although God’s handiwork is self-evident in the world, that He is truly here is up to us joining with Him, or, as Lincoln said, “being on His side” above all. But most often we miss the mark.

    Jesus didn’t miss the mark. If you agree with that, then you must agree that Jesus is divine. A man may not be much, but a man that God inhabits fully – no words could describe him. He is divine.

  10. i gotta say i’m a trinitarian. as for the incarnation, it’s a mystery to me. maybe we’re all divine and Jesus was the first one to meet the full potential of humanity? all i know is that Jesus was pretty awesome and why that is, i can’t fully say. i’m content right now to let the mystery be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo7Ic-Zg1ic

    on the other hand, we just had an awesome worship service on this week’s lectionary passage on Matt 25:31-46. here Jesus puts another layer on Divinity by saying that when you see a homeless, poor, orphaned, or widowed person, that person is HIM! Jesus didn’t say help the “least of these” because they’re deserving or kind or great, butter-hearted people. Jesus put himself UNDER these people!!! In fact says that the lowest of the low is in fact, HIM! and no one knows it.

    yikes! this being Christian stuff is HARD!!

    hope to post that service on the blog sometime in the near future…

  11. “i gotta say i’m a trinitarian. as for the incarnation, it’s a mystery to me” (Luke)

    I have no problems with people being Trinitarians – I just admit there is some scriptural drawback to that idea. For some reason, everyone that is Trinitarian have no problems with accessing God and what have you – so there really isn’t much I can say about that idea…except maybe – it’s not as important as some make it out to be.

    I know I am not a Trinitarian at this point in time – namely because it doesn’t line up with Judaism – and maybe Christianity is not aiming for that? Plus the idea of calling Christianity a monotheism in light of Jesus being divine strikes me as ‘odd’. I accept Jesus as a human messiah blessed by God – I don’t play too much into the divinity aspect because it goes away from the Judaism Jesus swears he is upholding (ie: God is One).

    Maybe it’s a flaw on my part – or maybe someday I will change back – but at this point I have a tough time swallowing Jesus as God (based on what I read in the texts).

  12. i absolutely agree that there are some scriptural drawbacks as simply put, most of the stuff in the NT about Three-in-One were added later. however, like most of my stuff, i have a twist on the orthodoxy.

    i started off Catholic and that’s expressedly Trinitarian. that’s what i was taught and accepted “cause you told me to drill sargent” (as forest gump would say). I later rejected this as it really says all over the place that “I am the Lord your God, I am one!”

    it has only been in seminary that i can see how God can be one, yet three things. Like i’m a student, husband, and will be a father. three things i one. but the orthodox divides it up like this: God is in heaven, Jesus is God-made-flesh and Holy Spirit is God acting in the world thanks to what Jesus has done. Well, frankly, this ignores one of the first passages of Genesis that state “God’s “spirit/breath/essence/RUAK hovered over the waters” so thus nullifying (at least in my mind) the logic of the long held catholic tradition. my new interpretation is that God is the creator, the still speaking spirit as well as in people!!!

    Jesus didn’t go around telling people they were awful, inherently worthless, totally depraved people… it took Calvin to do that. Jesus had a high ideal of people that they could not only meet the requirements of the law, but he could set the bar HIGHER! (with the whole “you have heard it said… but i say unto you” bits in Matt). So there’s a little bit of Jesus/God/Spirit within me and i really gotta focus on that and bring it out… now this sets some of our more conservative brothers and sisters off.. like JJ is prolly tear’n out his hair right now on my interpretation… however, i can say that i never said that grace isn’t part of the formula nor am i saying that humanity isn’t flawed. plus i can’t take complete credit for my actions either… if i do something good, it’s largely thanks to God/Spirit/Jesus and the teachings my Mama gave me. 😉

    keep searching.. if you’re still a unitarian, that’s fine! it’s the search that matters in my book. the fact your struggle’n at all is a positive as it means you’re paying attention and not accepting what is given to you… which is what attracted me to your blog and keeps me reading. like the Flobots say “there’s a war going on for your mind.. if you’re thinking.. you’re winning.”

    RAWK!

  13. I just want to share a quote from a book that I am reading called, “How (Not) To Speak Of God.” Peter Rollins is the author. It is the first thing I have read by him. He mentions Jesus’ instruction to “seek first the kingdom.” Without going into a ton of detail of what he is bringing out over the course of the entire chapter I will just share a quote which sums it up well: “In short, a true spiritual seeking can be understood as the ultimate sign that one already has that which one seeks to grasp. Consequently, a genuine seeking after God is evidence of having found.”

    A few years back a group of guys of which I was a part went out to fly fish and climb in Colorado. We talked about how the journey (anticipating the fish taking that fly, standing in the river, climbing above tree line, feeling the weather) was really more important and more of the reward than actually having the fish or standing on top of that 14er. I think we too often feel like we need to have all the answers nailed down. Maybe the most important part is asking the question, not getting the answer.

    I love the discussion.

  14. i gotta say i’m a trinitarian. as for the incarnation, it’s a mystery to me. maybe we’re all divine and Jesus was the first one to meet the full potential of humanity? all i know is that Jesus was pretty awesome and why that is, i can’t fully say. i’m content right now to let the mystery be(Luke)

    I find it interesting, the more I study Christianity and its supposed doctrines, the more I see that people see in Jesus what they want to see. It seems that people as a group are so driven by how they view the world that they attribute so much to Jesus that may or may not even be true. Some people are angry and others are joyous and loving, and because of that you have people who see Jesus as Love and you have others who see him as fighter and Judgement. A blogger at megaloi named Redlefty said it best, at least thats where I got it from.

    “Wherever your Heart is, your exegesis will follow?”

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