For the past couple of months I’ve been doing a good deal of thinking regarding two critical issues: 1) Is Jesus God and 2) which relates to the first, is the Trinity a valid conclusion based on NT teachings?
I’m under no delusion that this subject has been dealt with by far superior minds than mine. But my point and objective is not to deal with the topics in relation to those minds. My objective is to come to a satisfactory resolution of how I approach the subject in order to settle the issue in my mind. I have no desire to “compete” with others although I am attempting to learn and be challenged by their thoughts and teachings.
Having read several resources on the subject, I’ve come to an initial conclusion that their explanation of the subjects at hand are far from conclusive. In many regards, they serve only to use logic and texts that serve to confuse the issue and not clarify it.
The issues that nag me on these two topics are many. Here are just a few:
- Why didn’t Jesus plainly state he was God? There were ample opportunities for such. The Gospel of John’s prologue certainly seem speak to the issue from John’s perspective, but not Christ’s.
- Jesus is never referred to as “God the son” – but always as the “Son of God” or the “Son of Man” in the Gospels.
- In the Gospels God does not refer to Jesus as other than His “beloved Son.”
- The Apostles don’t seem to speak to the issue of the “trinity.” There are references we’ll look at which seem to indicate a trinitarian view, but nothing is clearly stated for an issue that seems so central to the Christian faith.
- Contrary views such as modalism seem to have merit based on what the scripture teaches but seem very threatening (viewed as heresy) to the idea of the trinity and I’m not sure I understand the threat.
- How can Jesus be at the “right hand of God” and still be God? In other words, how can God be at the right hand of himself. This seems like such a paradox that needs more than a trite explanation.
- Does believing in Christ mean one believes in him as God? Or is it primarily believing in him as the Messiah? This seems to me to be a crucial point in the discussion.
- Do the references of Jesus as having been given power and authority from God necessitate his equality with God?
- Having once determined the concept of the trinity – some three hundred years after the life and ministry of Christ – is it then fair to go back to the text and read that “understanding” into the text?
- As noted earlier, John 1:1ff exposes John’s belief that Jesus is both transcendent and the mediator of creation. His statement that the Logos was God and “He was in the beginning with God (v.2)” are strong indicators that either John saw Jesus as God or equal with God. But then when we look at John’s stated purpose for penning the gospel it was so people would believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.” Not God the son, not Jesus is God, but that Jesus is the Messiah, the very son of God. Those indicators need to be reconciled.
- Also in John, it is recorded that Thomas’s confession, when convinced of Jesus’ resurrection, responds with “My Lord and my God (2o:28).” Does that statement mark a revelation that only Thomas had in using Lord and God as though they are equal? Or was it simply an overwhelming admission of awe for the one raised from the dead?
I reckon this provides enough fodder for a beginning study of this topic. But it’s only the beginning. In addition, it’s important to note again that this study is not about deep theological nuances that only the experts in Greek and those who have Doctor of Theology after their name can capture. It’s about understanding scripture the way any common man would understand it using tools available to anyone anywhere. That does not mean I intend to dismiss the thoughts of the “specialists.” I simply intend to give them equal footing with those of us who must wrestle with the text to find its meaning. Having said that, I’ll confess I strongly intend to pick the brain of my son in-law – who indeed has his doctorate and finds Trinitarianism one of his favorite topics.
I hope you’ll join me when you can and comment often. Please be kind enough to check your preconceived notions at the door and let the text and the evidence speak for itself.