Was Jesus God?

01/04/2016

I keep seeing spam, or whatever it is, on my internet sports page about the topic “Is Jesus God?” It got me to think that I should ask those presumably in the know – Christians. So, here’s a little multiple choice questionnaire, just for Christians:

Question: Which of the following, if any, are correct?

  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus is the son of God
  • Jesus is Yahweh
  • Jesus is the messiah
  • Jesus is the archangel Michael
  • Jesus is a manifestation of God

According to varying Christian beliefs, it actually might be any one of them. That is, different Christian denominations have different beliefs with respect to Jesus. So, there basically isn’t any one right answer that reflects all Christian thinking. Every Christian denomination seemingly wants the right to define the Word of God their way, and their way only.

Aside: Islam holds that Jesus was a prophet and according to atheists… well, God doesn’t exist so it really doesn’t matter to them, now does it?

To confuse matters further, Judaism believes that Jesus wasn’t the long-awaited messiah prophesied by the Old Testament. The reason is that the Old Testament prophecies are actually prophecies from the Jewish Bible. You see, the Old Testament is, in reality, the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh). Jewish prophets wrote the prophecies and Jewish holy men said that Jesus did not fulfill their prophecies. So, these were not Christian prophecies but rather Jewish prophecies and the only messiah that anyone could have been expecting was a Jewish messiah. Actually, it would be hundreds of years before Christianity even became a religion.

The Jewish messiah was actually supposed to be both a messiah and a king, like King David who was considered to have been a messiah in his own right. In order to fulfill the messianic prophecies of the Tanakh (according to the Book of Isaiah), the following would have to occur:

  • All the Jews in the world would have to return to the Holy Land.
  • All the people in the world would have to worship the Jewish god.
  • The messiah would have to restore the Kingdom of Israel (then ruled by foreign powers).
  • The messiah would have to be named Immanuel.

With respect to the disciples, they were Jewish and they lived their lives strictly in accordance with the Torah. Therefore, they could only have been expecting a Jewish messiah. That’s why the disciples asked Jesus (see Acts 1:6), “…Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” They understood that this was potentially the fulfillment of one of the Jewish prophecies relating to the long-awaited Jewish messiah.

Of course, it never happened. Jesus did not restore the kingdom of Israel or fulfill any of the other prophecies for that matter. Even today, arguably three out of the four prophecies remain unfulfilled.

 

Epilogue

World-famous theologian Albert Schweitzer, in his seminal work The Quest for the Historical Jesus, pointed out that Jesus was supposed to return during the lifetime of the disciples (see Mark 13 and Matthew 24). For that reason, noted Christian apologist C.S.Lewis stated that Matthew 24:34 is the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.

The thing is…Jesus certainly would have returned as he promised the disciples…if he could have.  Even in the Bible, they asked why Jesus did not return as promised.

“They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

 – 2 Peter 3:4

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24 Responses to “Was Jesus God?”

  1. Nan said

    IMO, it’s Paul that turned Jesus into the long-awaited Messiah. He did have some convincing to do to manage this, but he seems to have succeeded because the gospel writers seem pretty convinced and wrote accordingly. (Note: as you know, the gospels were written AFTER Paul wrote his epistles.)

    Thus, Christians today believe what Paul taught while Jews are still awaiting the “real” messiah.

  2. “Question: Which of the following, if any, are correct?

    Jesus is God
    Jesus is the son of God
    Jesus is Yahweh
    Jesus is the messiah
    Jesus is the archangel Michael
    Jesus is a manifestation of God”

    All of the above except for #5.
    You start with a false premise claiming that most Christians don’t agree on whether Jesus was God, when one of the most basic beliefs in Christianity is that Jesus is God.

    • chicagoja said

      I didn’t say that most Christians don’t agree on whether Jesus was God. What I said was…”there basically isn’t any one right answer that reflects all Christian thinking.”

      • No one inside traditional Christian orthodoxy is going to argue with any of those definitions, except the archangel one, which is a Jehovah’s witness, not Christian belief. There is one right answer from the early church until now, and that is that Jesus is God in the flesh. Anything that falls outside that can’t be considered a Christian belief, and was condemned by the universal Christian church eons ago.

      • chicagoja said

        Of course, the Jehovah witnesses consider themselves to be Christians. That is, they follow the teachings of the apostles (supposedly). It sort of brings to mind the debate over who’s a real Jew, only now it’s who’s a real Christian. Since you brought up the subject of the early church, I assume you are talking about the Catholic church inasmuch as for hundreds of years, the only Christian church was the Catholic church and I assume you don’t agree with everything that they believe in. Am I correct?

      • No, but there are, as I stated, certain truths that we all hold to, the main one being Jesus was God in the flesh. Of course, there are always fringe groups who call themselves Christian…the early, and I mean really early “catholic” church I do agree with on most everything. In the first 300 years or so, before they strayed into considering popes infallible. The Nicene creed is a good guideline of what constitutes a Christian, and most people who call themselves Christian can quote it honestly.

      • chicagoja said

        I don’t know who the “we” is that you mention but there are any number of mainstream Christians, some of whom I happen to know personally, who don’t consider Jesus to be God. This underscores the point of Christian theologian Brian McLaren who said that, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”

      • Well, I have done some study into church history, and I know a lot of nasty stuff has happened in the name of Christ. If someone claims to be a Christian and insists Jesus is not God…then just what is it that makes them Christian? They are the false teachers Jesus spoke of.

      • chicagoja said

        Problem is, everybody points at somebody else and says that they are the false teachers. That’s what I meant by who is the real Christian.

      • “For many deceivers have entered into the world, those not confessing Jesus Christ coming in flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

        Jesus claimed to be one with the Father. (John 10:30)
        It’s not that hard to spot a false teacher, as a rule, they either deny His deity or his humanity. Or, they just try to cast doubt, like the serpent in the garden asking ” Did God really say?” Yeah, He did, and while asking questions is good to a point, doubt is not a virtue. In fact, Jesus applauded those who would accept with simple faith, not endlessly question what He had plainly laid out.

      • chicagoja said

        For sure the world is full of deceivers, but who is to say that a person’s religion isn’t one of them? Certainly, it’s not hard to spot someone who is preaching something different. That’s what got St. Paul in trouble with the disciples and we know what happened to Paul’s version of Christianity. It was eventually accepted by the orthodox church, as opposed to what the disciples taught was the message of Christ. As for the serpent, he told the truth which is why Jesus said that we should be as wise as serpents. As for Yahweh, he obviously lied to Adam and Eve about dying if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. All you need to do to confirm what I just said is to simply just read the Bible.

      • Nan said

        Chicagoja, may I add to your comment, “just read the bible” … and see it through your own eyes, not through what you have been taught by the church.

        It’s a proven fact that most believers read from a predetermined perspective.

      • chicagoja said

        That’s the problem with theology. You start with a belief system and work backwards to Scripture and interpret to fit your own theology. That’s how we wound up the trinity, original sin and even the Christian messiah who supposedly fulfilled prophecy. Interestingly enough, Wildswanderer has rejected my entire post, except for the part on prophecy. I wonder if they’ll pooh pooh Schweitzer and C. S. Lewis as well?

      • I’ve read the bible multiple times and as you might have noticed, Adam and Eve did die. First, their intimate relationship with God died, and eventually, so did their bodies. I see no conflict between the disciples message and Pauls. The only conflict was when Peter was going along with the Judaizers. Paul only took the work of Jesus to it’s logical conclusion.
        I just think you’re deliberately making mysterys of things in the Bible that are pretty plain.

      • chicagoja said

        Yes, they died but only after hundreds of years. However, the Bible says that you will die when you eat the fruit from the tree (and not hundreds of years later). Besides, man was never promised eternal life in the first place. Anyway, the whole Genesis story is allegorical as evidenced by rabbinical teachings and supported by various Christian theologians including Origen. Even Paul wrote (in Galatians) about the allegorical stories in Genesis. As for Paul vs. the disciples, there is a whole story there that you have obviously missed but which theologians and biblical scholars have not. Suggest you read up on this subject.

      • When I said that the truth was a Person, I meant Jesus, not a pastor or theologian, so not sure where you are getting that.

      • chicagoja said

        Well a person is a person. I assume that if you had meant jesus you would have obviously said jesus. In any event, Jesus is hardly a source of the truth as nobody (certainly anyone alive) has ever met him. Therefore, what we’re left with is what somebody said that Jesus said; hearsay, in other words. Even if we take scripture at face value, we have different people interpreting scripture differently. That takes us back to a pastor or theologian (or church dogma) which you seem to be trying to avoid admitting to. This is the only source of the “truth” for any and all religions. All that you can do is take it on faith that it’s true.

      • Except that people are converted many times through direct revelation from God without the help of any church. Sorry, thought it was obvious that when I said Truth (capitol T) was a Person I meant the only person who ever lived who was also God. Of course, faith is required, but there is more then enough evidence pf the Truth for the person who cares to look for it.

      • chicagoja said

        Of course, even if you had a revelation there is no way for you to know who you’re dealing with other than what you’re told. For example, Paul’s vision of Jesus. How did he know it was Jesus, a man he never met? All there was was a voice. For all a person knows, it’s the devil in disguise. As for the many conversions through direct revelation, how would you know? Who told you?

      • 7always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
        13while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

        And with this, I’ll get out of your hair. It is a shame that men like Mclaren who question everything, but can give no concrete answers to the questions of men’s souls, have so many followers.

      • chicagoja said

        It’s also a shame how some theologians can interpret that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies in Isaiah. Schweitzer, a Christian theologian himself, muddied the messiah waters further in his book “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” That is, according to the Bible, Jesus was suppose to return in the lifetime of the disciples but he didn’t. As for the questions of mens’ souls, I have never known anyone who could intelligently answer that question. Even Pascal(of the Pascal Wager) agrees with me on that issue.

      • Nan said

        I totally share McLaren’s perspective. But I would add … “the average Christian who listens to the average church pastor (bishop, priest, elder, etc.)” since this is where most believers get their “facts” about the faith.

      • chicagoja said

        Much of early church history has been suppressed (especially the beliefs of Christians prior to the formation of the Church). Good examples would be the teachings of Origen and Clement of Alexandria. As Wildswanderer admitted the “truth” needs to come another person (be it a pastor, priest or church dogma). It’s sad when people don’t have a mind of their own.

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