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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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8.03.2008

A question has been asked...

I recently got an email from a seminary student named Ryan who is writing a paper on different views of the claims of Christ. He would like our thoughts about some of the passages traditionally taken as Jesus claiming to be God or equal with God.

Here are some of the passages he mentioned:

Matthew 26:63
Mark 14:62 (same verse basically)
John 8:58
John 10:30
John 14:7-9
John 11:35

Thanks

9 comments:

NancyJ said...

Was Jesus the Son of God when He was here on earth? Do I still believe Jesus is the Son of God?

I have wrestled with this question much like I have wrestled with how much of the Bible is accurate historical truth. What if these words were not Jesus' words but merely an author's interpretation of events at the time of the writing. Scholars say that the gospels were written decades later and are not eyewitness accounts. How much meaning has been lost by translating from Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic into English?

How can we embrace truth if we allow the possibility that Scripture is not completely factual and accurate?

To that, I agree with Jane that the Holy Spirit is instrumental in our understanding and accepting truth in Scripture. I give God a lot of freedom to help me accept and understand who He is and the stories portrayed in Scripture.

And then it is my decision to act in faith. I seek God and I seek to understand what has been written about God and Jesus. By faith I believe. The interesting thing is that I am able to find community with others who think like I do. I do not need to find God or experience truth alone.

I wrote a poem a while ago in answer to the question I asked at the beginning of this post.

When I was a little girl
I heard a story about a baby
who grew up and walked on water.

But then the scholars spoke their words and I listened.
Nobody walks on water these days.

And I realized that words
don't hold their truth
simply because they are told over and over.

Unless they are broken, bruised
and buried like the Christ
they once represented,

they will never breath with life.
Jesus the Son of God,
the man who walked on water,
my words. My life.

Nancy Jarosi 2007

Jane Johnson said...

Ryan,

I am a little confused about one of the passages you have listed. John 11:35 is "Then Jesus wept." Is that what you mean?

ryan weingartner said...

That was supposed to be John 11:25. sorry about that.

Jane Johnson said...

Ryan,

Here are my thoughts on these verses.

Matt 26:63-64/Mark 14:62
“Yes, it as you say... But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
I thought about this verse for awhile because it has that tricky “son of man” in it. I think that Jesus use of this verse not only spoke volumes to the Jewish leaders because it came from Daniel, but I think that it also imparts Jesus’ special quality, that he is both man and God and it is impossible to separate them. When Daniel sees his vision of Jesus in Daniel 7 he notes that he is “like a son of man” meaning that he looked like a regular person, which contrasted strongly to the image that precedes it, that of the Ancient of Days sitting in his fiery throne. I bet Daniel was really surprised to see someone that looked just like him being given so much authority. So I think when Jesus used this saying to describe himself it might have been one last chance to say to the Sanhedrin, “Hey, I seem like a regular guy and remember, that’s what Daniel saw!” As far as whether or not this verse is evidence of Jesus equaling God, I feel like the more important issue is what “the Christ” meant to the Jewish leaders and what he actually was in the person of Jesus. If anything, I think you could use this verse as evidence that Jesus is subordinate to God, because in Daniel’s vision the son of man seems subordinate to the Ancient of Days.

John 8:58
“I tell you...before Abraham was born, I am!”
This seems like a pretty clear admission from Jesus that he is made from the same stuff as Yahweh, so then logically you could say that he equates himself with the one true god of the Israelites here.

John 10:30
“I and the Father are one.”
This statement is pretty ambiguous, because “one” doesn’t necessarily mean “the exact same thing.” It can also connote unity, as it does in John 17. When Jesus says “that they may be one as we are one” he soon follows with “May they be brought to complete unity...” If “one” doesn’t mean “the same” here, then it might not mean it back in chapter 10. If I didn’t believe that Jesus was God, I don’t think this verse would convince me.

John 14:7-9
“If you really knew me you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him...Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father?”
Jesus is making his close relationship to the Father clear here. I think from this verse it would be fair to say that Jesus consists of or abides in the Father. Right before this he talks about being the way to the Father, which suggests that they are in some way separate from each other.

John 11:25
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
I don’t understand how this verse could explicitly mean that Jesus is God, unless it involves interpolating it with verses from the Old Testament. All that seems to come from it for sure is that Jesus some how has the power to keep people from dying and to resurrect the dead. So then I suppose I would agree that Jesus makes it clear that he is at least superhuman here. This reminds me of “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” the meaning of which also isn’t clear. When Jesus says that he is “the resurrection and the life,” what does he even mean by this? To me this statement is, like many statement’s of Jesus, wrapped in such mystery that we can only partially penetrate it with a single explanation and will probably never fully understand it.

It doesn’t seem like there is anywhere in the Gospels where Jesus just comes out and says “I am God,” or “I am Yahweh.” I think this is interesting because so often believing that Jesus was fully man and fully God is presented as an essential Christian dogma. In the many verses in which Jesus speaks about his relationship to the Father he seems to present a multiplicity of explanations about how the two of them relate. To me this ultimately speaks of how special the relationship between Jesus and the Father is and how unable we humans are to comprehend it.

ryan weingartner said...

thank you for your lengthy response jane. the one thing i'd say is in response to John 10:30, if you look a couple of verses down, it says they were seeking to stone him because "You, being a man, make yourself out ot be God". so whether or not you think "i and the father are one" is ambiguous, it doesn't seem like the religious leaders took it that way.

CoffeeComix & Email Marketing said...

Greetings, stumbled in from EmergentVillage... I live in Columbus and am happy to see there are others in the area who might relate to my searching.

This question really struck me and I hope you don't mind me interjecting, because it's a thought I've been pondering lately as well.

A few thoughts : Does the title "Son of God" really imply that Jesus was God in the flesh?

When you consider that most of these verses referenced come from "John", which was the last gospel written, does this lend evidence to the idea that the early church grew into the idea that Jesus was greater than just a spokesman for God but was God himself on earth?

And the real question... if Jesus never actually claimed to be God, but it was added by the church, how does this affect faith? Can you still be a "Christian"? Is it then wrong to worship God through the man Jesus?

thanks
Dan

PS Nancy I love your poem.

Jesse said...

Nancy - what a beautiful poem. Powerful and insightful. I love it. I think you said in a few short words what will take me far too many paragraphs.

Jane - thanks for taking the time to engage each verse on it's own. I don't think I'm going to do the same, but come at it from a different angle.

I'm not sure what Ryan's paper is about, but it seems tough to me to look at singular verses, or even the close context (textually and culturally) to argue for Jesus' divinity. Both Jane and Dan seem to agree that Jesus never explicitly said (as far as we have recorded) "I am Yahweh, and here's how the whole Trinity thing works..." When these passages are read on their own, they could go either way, and like Jane pointed out, unless you have all the OT history, a first-century Jewish mindset, and some really good textual critical skills, you may not even conclude that Jesus was God at all. And clearly, throughout history some have reached this conclusion.

Dan hit on the question of the early church formulating and solidifying this idea of Jesus being God. For me, this is not a problem at all, and I'll try to explain a bit. The "Jesus event" was huge, overwhelming and changed history. Peter Rollins talks about it like a volcanic eruption, and then we are left with a huge crater in the aftermath, wrestling through what just happened. The early Christians were highly committed to Jesus and his way of life. There doesn't seem to be any political or monetary motivation, and really no official "religion" was formed until much later. Yet very early on, people were convinced that Jesus was God and deserved worship. Although John's gospel is more explicit, the other three seem to make the same point but in broader strokes. Paul's writings affirm the same. Even though these writings come several decades after Jesus himself, I don't think we should see them as changing the events in a negative way, but rather wrestling with the meaning of something so incredibly complex, even supernatural or divine.

Furthermore, given that Jesus never explicitly claims divinity, and that he never even writes a Gospel treatise himself, there is an inherent element of mystery and faith. The purpose of the gospels are not for us to "figure out God" or even "to know that Jesus is God" but rather to be one form of revelation of the One beyond us. The disciples, the early followers, the writers of the NT encountered God and then spent centuries trying to figure what happened and what it meant for their lives.

For us, we have to really encounter God, not just read about or study him. The gospels are one way (perhaps the best) to encounter God, but even more so, as has been said throughout the blog, it is through his Spirit and through the very living person of Jesus, and all of this through the mystery of faith. Some can read the Gospels and not encounter Jesus at all; others read the same stories and are fully certain that Jesus is God, the living Savior of the world. Again, all of this is a mystery, but it goes beyond just verses offering a definition. The encounter makes us wonder, question and reflect, and through faith and by the Holy Spirit we are brought to God and believe. It may take longer for some than others, and it is not as easy as a textbook definition. Thus, the early believers took centuries to figure it out, but that should be what we expect of encountering the holy God.

Hopefully we are willing to go on a similar long, challenging, faith-filled journeying of encountering God.

Adam Newby said...

Beautifully stated, Jesse. Simply beautiful.

Nick Johnson said...

Dan (and anyone, for that matter) - I just wanted to say that you are always welcome to come to our discussions. We are meeting this Sunday at 3:00 at the Global Gallery in German Village.