While I’m defending myself… (or how the Spirit works through time)

November 1, 2006

Because I advocate the idea that the Spirit can and continues to reveal the nature of God to us throughout time, I have been called a gnostic.

I’m not sure I follow that argument.

Now that I know more about gnosticism, I know that gnostics believe in a secret knowledge.  They believe that the key to salvation is understanding.  Now aside from the secret part, the understanding part doesn’t sound so bad.  But they also believe that the material world is evil– that our bodies are bad– clearly I don’t believe that.  They essentially come up with an almost polytheistic theology, something I don’t agree with, when they start to describe creation.

No, I’m not a gnostic.

And if you think that the whole of truth is contained within scriptures, then you haven’t studied your church history very well.  The fact of the matter is that almost none of what we believe was formed in Biblical times.  Jesus did not proclaim his divinity, nor the doctrine of the Trinity.  He didn’t even say he was the Messiah.  Other folks came up with all that stuff.  So if you don’t believe that the Spirit reveals more of God’s truth to us over time, then you are surely undermining the very core beliefs of our own tradition.

And right here, right now, in this decade, I believe that the Spirit is revealing to us that gays and lesbians are welcome for the full inclusion at God’s table.  If the canon closed and then we started to get revelations about these doctrines of Jesus which today make us Christian, then when did that revelation stop?  With Augustine?  Cranmer?  Where?

Of course it doesn’t stop.  It continues on forever, and the job of the church is to discern it.  It doesn’t come easy.  None of the fathers were embraced wholeheartedly-  even the ones whose doctrines we treasure today as given orthodoxy.

Once again, I say that any other view is… revisionist.

🙂 again!

j

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29 Responses to “While I’m defending myself… (or how the Spirit works through time)”

  1. poststop Says:

    “Jesus did not proclaim his divinity”

    If that is true what would you say was the reason for his crucifixion? Why did the Jewish leaders attempt to stone him when he said “I AM”. Why did they say to him “You being a man make yourself to be God.”? What did he mean when he said “He who has seen me has seen the Father (God).”? What did he mean when he said “I and the Father are one?” What did Jesus mean when he said “In that day, men shall come before Me and say, `Lord, Lord. Have we not prophesied in Thy name? Have we not cast out devils in Thy name? Have we not done mighty works in Thy name?’ And I shall say unto them, `Depart from Me ye workers of iniquity. I never knew you.”? What did Jesus mean when he said “No one knows the Father save the Son, and He to whomsoever He reveals Him. No one knows the Son except the Father, and He to whom He reveals Him.”

  2. Jeff Says:

    Thank you for posting.  I was hoping someone would ask that question, or a variant of it– although the answer probably deserves a post itself and I haven’t yet thought of a succinct way to answer it and also do it in a thoughtful way that shields the audience from the shock of realizing that the history the church teaches isn’t exactly the history that happened.  I’ve tried to show how I reconcile my beliefs about it at the end of this rather long comment.

    It is a commonly accepted fact among Biblical scholars that Jesus’ divinity was not accepted/settled until the council of Nicea in 325. Please see my note at the end– just because Jesus may not have known he was divine does not necessarily preclude his divinity, which is what I think you are afraid of and trying to argue against. I’m not arguing against Jesus’ divinity- just pointing out that the authority of Jesus’ divinity isn’t scripture.

    Your question is a bit loaded in several senses. First, you are quoting Gospel text which was not written until well after the death of Jesus. As with all scripture, it was written with a particular audience for a particular purpose. If it weren’t, we would have a single Gospel and not need four of them– all with different twists.

    Second, taking into account that the Gospels were all written with a particular perspective in mind, it is difficult to generically answer your question. If your goal is to see whether the historical Jesus actually said these things and proclaimed his divinity, I can’t answer that without an analysis of each text.

    Third, what I can say categorically is that most scriptures that do stand up to historical criticism and thus can be assumed to be accurately attributed to the historical Jesus reveal him to see himself as a prophet ushering in a new age, certainly critical of the Temple and aristocratic establishment, and implicitly critical of the foreign Roman empire occupying Israel. He certainly sees himself as having a special prophetic role.

    Nowhere, though, does Jesus proclaim his divinity. Jesus was crucified because he made a disturbance in the temple, threatening the temple establishment. The Romans then executed him as a threat to public order. This is an oversimplification and can be best understood when studying the culture of Second Temple Judaism.

    Some notes from the scholar Frederick Murphy’s book Early Judaism: The Exile to the Time of Jesus on some other titles attributed to Jesus:

    Christ (Messiah): “The portrait of the Messiah Christians have in mind simply did not exist before Christians composed it on the basis of their experience of the risen Jesus.” (p. 365) That is to say, Jesus did not proclaim Messiahship before his death but rather it was formed by the Jesus movement after they experienced the resurrection– that is why the timing of the writing of the Gospels is important.

    Son of God: “The application of ‘son of God’ to an Israelite king is consonant with what we know of other kings in the ancient world, who were often thought to be divine or the offspring of gods. In Israel, such terminology was used, but it never denotes actual divinity.” (p. 368).

    Son of Man: “Jesus uses the phrase ‘Son of Man,’ but it is not clear that he speaks of himself each time. The apocalyptic Son of Man sayings refer to one who is to come at the end of time to rescue the righteous and to judge the wicked (Mark 8:38, 14:62)… If Jesus did originate its use, his reference was most likely to the apocalyptic son of man.” (p.369). Murphy does later say that scholars disagree on whether Jesus refers to himself as this apocolyptic son of man or not.

    I do not bring all of this up to argue that Jesus wasn’t divine, or that our tradition of Jesus is wrong, or that Christianity is bogus.

    I just bring it up because if anyone thinks that the authority for Christianity comes from Jesus himself, they’ve got their historical facts wrong.

    How do I believe in Jesus’ resurrection? How do I believe in Jesus’ divine place in the Trinity? Not because Jesus said so in scripture– although I love scripture and value it as sacred. These particular pieces of Christianity get their authority for me elsewhere.

    Much of the authority of Christianity comes from the community over the years– said more theologically, it comes from the movement of the Spirit. And that was my point to begin with. 🙂

    j

  3. poststop Says:

    Jeff,

    Well I would argue that Jesus did say he was God, I would argue that the first hand eyewitness accounts which we have of Jesus (the Gospels) are accurate and we have no reason to doubt that. I would also argue that the divinity of Jesus was widely taught and believed long before Nicea and we have the writings to prove it. If you get the time however, perhaps you might enjoy listening to the James White – John Crossan debate, “Is the Bible True?”. I think both our positions are represented in a fashion that we can not do justice to here.

    https://aomin.org/mp3/shop.html?shop=list3

    You will need to scroll down and search for “#496 – Is the Bible True?”. Cost is $3.50, a pretty good deal.

  4. Jeff Says:

    Postop –

    The title of this debate reveals part of the problem. “Is the Bible True?” is a simplistic question. The Bible is a historical document composed by many authors, many of them pseudononymously. The question cannot simply be answered “yes” or “no”. (Sorry, I don’t have 3 hours right now to listen to the debate.)  We as Christians don’t value it because of its historical accuracy (we value it for its narrative of our faith), but we can grow from examining under the light of historical criticism.  Those elements get confused often – that’s why folks get so upset with creationism and evolutionism.  They can’t let go of the faith statement contained in the Bible (the “why”) in order to see the science that history clearly tells us is true (the “what” and the “how”).

    We cannot take with us into our examination of the Bible our doctrine and theology of Christianity if we hope at all to understand what it says from an objective historical viewpoint. See my post here.

    To do so is a challenging journey, though, because it means that we have to be open to what God is saying to us. Essentially, we have to be willing to lay aside our fear (of holding on to our preconceived notions) and grow in Christ.

    While it may seem threatening at first and seem as if it is limiting God, historical analysis actually opens up God to new levels. If you believe that our journey as Christians is to push ourselves to learn more of God, trusting God as much as we can, then releasing ourselves of the fear that our history has to show us can bring us to new intimacy with him.

    On Nicea, of course the divinity of Jesus was a position that many held before Nicea. But gnosticism was also a position held by many before Nicea, as was Arianism. In fact- the Nicene council was primarily called to eliminate Arianism, which saw Jesus not as “eternally begotten” of the father but as a sort of “super-human” who came after the father.

    We like to generalize and say “it was all this way” or “it was all that way” during historical periods, just as we do now (with questions like ‘is the Bible true’). The fact of the matter is that there are very few absolutes, and the journey of faith can be enhanced, not diminished, by noticing the varying shades of gray in the middle.

    j

  5. Doug Says:

    I think the problem is that no one is talking about this from the pulpit. I took a class in college called “Jesus and the Gospels,” and it shocked me to find that all the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were not necessarily actually spoken by him. I never left the church, but it took most of 10 years before I really started reading and thinking about it from the perspective that the Bible still has something to say to us, even though it is not “factual.” I also remember an enquirer’s class in which the priest gave a continuum of ideas about the resurrection, from physical recussitation to the other end of the spectum, and again being shocked; thinking that it is impossible to be a Christian if you don’t believe in the resurrection as physical resuscitation, and wondering how I could continue to be a Christian under those circumstances. I have really enjoyed reading Marcus Borg. I think he has a great way of putting the historical study of Jesus in the proper perspective. He gives us a window to look at the bible, not from a true/false perspective, but from another perspective altogcether, where you don’t have to assume a first century mentality to believe. This has given me a way to continue to be a Christian, and to take the Bible seriously. It is much more about spirituality for me now, because I am not struggling to try and believe things to be “factual,” I can accept them as “true.”

  6. poststop Says:

    “I took a class in college called “Jesus and the Gospels,” and it shocked me to find that all the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were not necessarily actually spoken by him.”

    Doug,

    What is your best argument that this is actually the case?

    – E

  7. Jeff Says:

    Thanks Doug.

    Postop, I’m actually in the middle of writing another post right now that goes into this topic in more detail, since this thread was actually geared towards gnosticism.

    I can’t answer for Doug, but I’ll answer for me.

    First, let me once again reassert that we have to be confident enough in our faith that critical analysis of Scripture does not undermine our relationship with God. If we base our relationship with God wholly on the “inerrancy of Scripture” then we are really idolizing the Scripture– that is a fallacy in logic since Scripture tells us not to worship idols.

    That said, any historical analysis requires the following steps in order to validate that the work is genuine, quoted from Murphy again (p. 335):

    1 – Dissimilarity – Does it differ from what we know of first-century Judaism and the early church?
    2 – Embarrassment: Is it something that we would not expect the church to preserve, since in some sense it is embarrasing to it? (ed. This would make it more authentic as the church would not ‘make up’ embarrasing stories.)
    3 – Multiple Attestation – Is it found in more than one source?
    4 – Coherence – Does it cohere with what we have found using the more demanding criteria?
    5 – Linguistic and Environmental Context – Does it fit into the time and place of Jesus’ ministry?
    6 – Rejection and Execution – Can it help to explain why Jesus was rejected by many of his contemporaries and why he was executed?
    7 – Result – Can it help to explain developments after Jesus’ death, such as the foundation and growth of the church?

    There are whole volumes dedicated to analyzing the texts and demonstrating that the Gospels (as well as lots of the rest of the Bible) are not completely historically accurate.

    It is, however, an oversimplification to say that Jesus didn’t say anything attributed to him in the Gospels. We have to use analytical criteria like the criteria above to figure it out.

    Again, that doesn’t necessarily invalidate the rest as non-canonical. It just enhances our understanding of the text- we can understand the difference between what we believe as revealed through our tradition and what we believe as revealed directly from Jesus.

    j

  8. Jeff Says:

    Also, Doug – it sounds like the revelation of the stark contrast between the tradition and the history was a painful one for you.

    I am glad that you have found a way to reconcile the differences between tradition and history in order to begin to appreciate the richness that Christianity has to offer.

    It is my belief that when we open ourselves up to this possibility we begin to see a whole new world– going from a stark world of black and white to a vivid world living in many hues of bright and wonderful colors.

    j

  9. Doug Says:

    Jeff,
    I was not as painful to me as it obviously is to many people, but it took quite a while to process. I already had questions that I couldn’t reconcile, so the news that I didn’t have to literally believe everything in the Bible was actually a relief. Of course, many people faced with this just go into what Bishop Spong call the “church alumni association” and never seriously get involved again, because they don’t see any alternative. I fortunately was able, over time, to see that there are other possibilities.

    Poststop,
    If you read it objectively, the Bible itself proves that it is not “factual.” There are many things, some of them within the Gospels themselves, that cannot be
    reconciled to each other if you are trying to proved factuality. If you look at it from the point of view of many people trying to bring the same story to many different audiences, and so stressing different parts of the story, it makes much more sense. Of course if you have no interest in finding that this is possible, you probably will not allow yourself to see the possibility. If, however, you want to see what some of the other options are, do some reading. I highly recommend Marcus Borg: The Heart of Christianity.”

  10. Jeff Says:

    Doug’s absolutely right on this.

    Even if you don’t like my academic ramblings, I’m not sure how you can reconcile the fact that Jesus clearly shows himself in the Gospel as a strict follower of Torah (“I come not to abolish the law and the prophets”) and only to the Jews (he does not particularly enjoy healing the Canaanite woman or the Roman centurion’s servant).

    We must reconcile this with the view that Paul espouses later with the mission to the Gentiles, which clearly states that Gentiles do not have to completely follow Torah (they may abstain from circumcision) and are directly eligible to participate in religious life (as contrasted with Jesus’ comparison of the Canaanite woman to a dog).

    Clearly presenting a historical Jesus as divine presents some difficulty given these facts from the text. Why, if Jesus saw himself as divine and was omniscient, did he not treat gentiles with the same love and affection as the Jews? Why did he not abolish the Torah directly instead of leaving it to Paul? These are challenging questions to answer if we do not factor in the historical facts.

    We must find a basis for our doctrine and faith outside of the historical Jesus and find it in the tradition the Spirit has revealed to us through the community.  In doing so we also begin to understand how important the community is in God’s eyes and what it means to ensure that all in the community are welcomed and loved.

    j

  11. obadiahslope Says:

    “It is a commonly accepted fact among Biblical scholars that Jesus’ divinity was not accepted/settled until the council of Nicea in 325.”
    Among SOME bible scholars, true. But you can only write this statement if you have surveyed the vast range of Bible scholars to see if it is “commonly accepted”. It would take a lot of time to do this – a lifetime of reading.

  12. Jeff Says:

    Obadiah-

    Nice to hear from you again. It’s been a while.

    What would YOU propose the council of Nicea was called for, if not to deal with the Arian heresy?

    j

  13. obadiahslope Says:

    I agree absolutely that Nicea was called to deal with Arianism. That is not to say that Jesus’s divinity was nopt accepted before then. Are you saying the Apostles did not belive Jesus was divine?

  14. obadiahslope Says:

    I agree absolutely that Nicea was called to deal with Arianism. That is not to say that Jesus’s divinity was nopt accepted before then. Are you saying the Apostles did not believe Jesus was divine? Perhaps we are still mishearing each other.

  15. Jeff Says:

    I’m not necessarily saying that, although I’m not ruling it out.

    I’m only saying necessarily that Jesus did not proclaim his divinity, and certainly that there is nothing in the Gospels that conclusively affirms Jesus’ divinity, nor the Trinity.

    That means simply that we must derive our authority for Jesus’ divinity not from Scripture but from our tradition. If you can find a place in the Gospels where Jesus says “I am divine” then please correct me. I am confident that it does not exist. I’ve already listed a very lengthy explanation of all the titles that are used and that are reconstructed into the tradition’s explanation of Jesus’ divinity.

    Again, it is extremely important to understand that simply because Jesus didn’t say it doesn’t mean that we can’t believe it.  Truth comes in many forms.  Authority in scripture through historical accuracy is only one of them; one that is, in my view, dangerous to use in faith and doctrine because it is easy to misunderstand as the cultural context changes over time and geopolitical space and as the historical facts become clearer with new revelations about history.  Scripture has authority, but not because of historical accuracy.  It is because it tells the narrative of our faith.  The doctrine of our church gets its authority from our tradition and our history AFTER Biblical times.

    Once we shift our authority away from Scripture to do things like understand Jesus’ divinity, it stands to reason that we must understand that the Spirit is moving in the community to reveal things outside of Scripture. Then we must determine if that happened only for a finite period of time or if it continues on today.

    My firm belief is that it continues on indefinitely– that the reason for the Trinity’s importance is because God exists in community within Godself, and God values community within us– therefore God uses community to reveal more about God to us over time. God is too big to be understood completely by us, or to be wholly contained in any literature so the Bible cannot contain all that there is to know about God. We will never know all that there is to know about God, for God is too big. If you agree with that, it is not an inconsistency to say that God will continue to reveal more of God’s will to us over time.

    j

  16. obadiahslope Says:

    “I’m only saying necessarily that Jesus did not proclaim his divinity, and certainly that there is nothing in the Gospels that conclusively affirms Jesus’ divinity, nor the Trinity.

    That means simply that we must derive our authority for Jesus’ divinity not from Scripture but from our tradition. ”

    Only if you dismiss Paul, Peter aJohn and the writer of hebrews from Scripture, Jeff.

  17. obadiahslope Says:

    “I’m only saying necessarily that Jesus did not proclaim his divinity, and certainly that there is nothing in the Gospels that conclusively affirms Jesus’ divinity, nor the Trinity.

    That means simply that we must derive our authority for Jesus’ divinity not from Scripture but from our tradition. ”

    Only if you dismiss Paul, Peter, John and the writer of Hebrews from Scripture, Jeff.

  18. Jeff Says:

    We are talking past each other again.

    First, to highlight something– just to be clear I think you have agreed with me that there is no reference in the Bible where Jesus actually proclaims his divinity. That is a big jump for many people to agree with. There may be references where other people infer it, but Jesus never actually says it himself.

    Second, I am willing to cede that there are references in the text which substantiate the tradition we have built up around our tradition, but there is no evidence that they were seen by the authors in the same light that we see them. Other views existed in early Christianity which looked at these texts completely differently (Arian, Valentinus/Gnostics, and many others) and did not arrive at the same conclusion. Arianism- which has a completely different view of Cristology than we do- caught on in the north and was ultimately helped to save Rome from utter destruction when it fell in the fourth century (since the Goths were Christians, albeit Arian Christians, they allowed anyone taking refuge in a church to live).

    On the text existing separate from our tradition, for example, there clearly are references to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the text. But there are no references to the Christology of the Son, there are no references to the Son being ‘eternally begotten’ of the Father, there are no references to one God in three.

    These are later additions to our doctrine, which reading through our lens we can support in the text. There is simply no reason to suppose that the authors had a Trinitarian God in mind when they wrote the text.

    Again, this doesn’t presuppose that the Trinitarian model is incorrect, it only presupposes that our model of revelation for understanding is not completely bound up in Scripture.

    j

  19. FrMichael Says:

    Jesus referring to Himself as divine: Jn 8:24; 8:28; 8:56-58; 10:30; 11:31-38; 13:19.

    Once again time constraints force me to write a pithy comment. Maybe more later.

  20. obadiahslope Says:

    Jeff,
    In trying NOT to be an unfriendly responder to your blog, I let some things slide. even important ones. So In pointing out that the rest of the NT has some important evidence to provide on the question of Jesus’ divinity, please don’t read me saying the gospels do not. It is just that I do not want to pick at everything you write.
    To take a couple of gospel examples: In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of judging the world. In Mark 2 he forgives the sins of the paralytic. Jesus’ self-conciousness is that he is God ISTM.
    So the answer to your question depends on what you mean by “proclaiming”. With Pannenberg i would maintain the question of Jesus identity becomes clearer over time. Especially in his death and resurrection. As Jesus says “If I be lifted up I will draw all men/people unto me”.
    So while I agree with you that Jesus does not say in so many words ” I am God” in the gospels, we do find claims which are appropriate only for God to make.

    I would nuance your comment about Arians differently. The assumption that they were christians seems to me to beg some very big questions. Denial of who Jesus is is heresy that places people outside of christianity. It is worth noting that the areas you and i might disagree on regarding TEC in 2003 and 2006 do not fall into this category of heresy – and how to react when we disagree seems to be more of an open question than Arianism posed.

    At this point in the discussion i don’t think you have established “The doctrine of our church gets its authority from our tradition and our history AFTER Biblical times.” – unless by “our church” you mean TEC. Perhaps all we are doing is staking out the fact that you appera to me to be Liberal/catholic, while I am evangelical!

    As to the “Son being eternally begotten” it would be fruitful to base our argument about the first chapters of John and Hebrews.
    Jesus created our world – and upholds all things by his power.
    You might want to argue that time began before the unioverse, but these passages ISTM say that Jesus existed before our universe.
    Phillipians 2 might come into the discussion too, but the argument is not as straightforward there.

    I do not assert that the word trinity is in the Bible. But I would say that it has been derived from it. I believe like the law in Josiah’s time, the word will surprise us and teach us things that are new to us. Some see that as new truth. I see it as an old book still speraking.

  21. Jeff Says:

    Fr Michael –

    See above Murphy quotes on titles attributed to Jesus and on standards to be used in critical historical analysis of text.

    j

  22. Jeff Says:

    Obadiah –

    I think we are finally getting somewhere.

    You agree that the word trinity isn’t in the Bible. It has been derived from it. We are in agreement here– the word will surprise us and teach us things that are new to us. I do not claim it is new truth, only that God is revealing more of Gods never changing self to us as time goes on.

    AND God is not the text, but God is outside the text. That is something I don’t agree with you on– it isn’t the book that is speaking, but God. I still would represent that to say that it is the book speaking is idolatry of the text. We cannot hold the book up higher than the Creator.

    I appreciate your efforts to keep the conversation friendly– I hope I’m doing the same. As per my most recent post, I really don’t care whether you see the text saying Jesus was divine or not. The point for me is really that the view that the text is infallible is generally most often used for oppression rather than liberation, for restriction rather than freedom, and I think historical analysis of the text reveals a theme of love, justice, freedom, and peace in the text which is much broader than the themes of judgement, punishment, and interference with neighbor.

    As long as we agree on that, what you believe about what Jesus said or didn’t say doesn’t really matter to me.

    j

  23. obadiahslope Says:

    Its common in my industry to observe the transition that comes over journalism graduates when they leave J school. After some years of faithfully writing essays on Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, they turn around and interview real people and write down their words in the belief that others will read and understand. In theory we are all post modern – in practise we live as though real communication is possible.
    For example I type this in the naive belief that there really is a Jeff.
    If God wanted to have a blog – he could do it. If God wanted to speak through a book he could do it. If it is his book at some level he is both outside and within the text if he owns his words.
    I read what you write – and experience you through your words. that is not as satisfactory as meeting you face to face. As Paul says of God we see through a glass darkly.
    And being human we cannt meet god directly as was explained to Moses.
    As to whether the text has been used more for oppression than liberation – it would seem to be to matter also if the text is true.
    At an earlier time I had some bruising arguements witha high official of my diocese about apartheid. From my perspective he misused the text to support something evil. Did that mean the text was untrue or just that he used it wrongly?
    On the issue of what the Bible reveals can I leave you with a question: is it possible to have justice without judgement?

  24. Jeff Says:

    I’m not in agreement that we can’t know God as fully as Moses, so I think we don’t start from the same premise.

    That is what I have said many times about the importance of spiritual practice, and how the church has not placed enough emphasis on spirituality in our current life. Anglicanism tends to particularly value liturgy over the mystical nature of God, so I think that’s something we have to watch out for (finding God in words instead of somewhere else).

    I find themes of God in the words, but I don’t find God himself there. And not all of the text is consistent with the God I know and love.

    That includes a God of judgement. I love my kids, but I do not judge them, but have compassion for what circumstances might have brought them to do whatever it is that they did when they screw up. If they do something wrong, I use that incident to teach them. I guide them towards justice so that they will go out and be instruments of justice and compassion. That isn’t judgement– that is love. Maybe that is semantics, but I don’t think so.

    j

  25. obadiahslope Says:

    That was not clear was it. I must remeber not to write too briefly to you.
    I was trying to say we are like Moses, not different from him!. He could not look on God directly. Neither can we. we agree on that. i think.
    “If they do something wrong”. That is judgement; telling right from wrong. Guiding someone towards justice and away from injustice is judgement too, because you are making a decision about what is right and what is wrong.
    What we might disagree about is punishment.

  26. FrMichael Says:

    Jeff, my last response taking quotations from John was in counterpoint to your assertion that

    “I’m only saying necessarily that Jesus did not proclaim his divinity, and certainly that there is nothing in the Gospels that conclusively affirms Jesus’ divinity, nor the Trinity.”

    The first part you explain away by appealing to Murphy’s rules (which are a good summation of the historical-critical project). Since these statements of Jesus’ divinity fit well with many of Murphy’s points (1, 5, 6 & 7) for determining authentic sayings, why dismiss them out of hand?

    In any case, John is a canonical Gospel, so there are verses in the Gospels which conclusively affirm Jesus’ divinity. I neglected to mention the most straight-forward affirmation in John 1:1.

    I’ll agree with you that the Trinity is more derived from Tradition, not sola scriptura.

  27. Jeff Says:

    Fr Michael – yes you are correct that I overstated my position. I should have instead said that

    “Using the evidence that we have we cannot reasonably assume that Jesus proclaimed his own divinity. The only references to divinity in the Gospels are made in the Gospels written well after Jesus death when the early church was starting to entrench its positions.”

    The texts that you refer to in John have not other sources to back them up– see the other Murphy quote about historical analysis and determining whether text is authentic.

    I believe Jesus saw himself as a prophet. A devout Jew who saw himself ushering in a new age where justice would be restored. I don’t find any evidence that he saw himself divine.

    I am also a Christian, and for me Jesus is the divine Son of God. I find no contradiction between these two points of view.

    j

  28. Jeff Says:

    Obadiah –

    Yes, I think we have to agree on the semantics.

    Judgement is often referred to by some literalists as the time when God or Christ will divide up all people into either eternal damnation or eternal salvation.

    I do not believe in such a judgement.

    If by judgement you mean using discretion to help us learn from our mistakes, I might be able to be more inclined to such a view.

    j

  29. obadiahslope Says:

    So getting back to Nicea for a moment Jeff. Do you believe the Nicene creed (which for me summarises scripture and for you possibly reflects the tradition of the church and for anglicans was affirmed in the quadrilateral)?
    “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
    and his kingdom will have no end.”
    (lets leave filoque aside for now).

    I am not trying to trap you here – just exploring how close you sit to tradition.


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