Friday, 19 September 2014

Systematic Theology, Chapter 26 (part 2)


We have just looked at the humanity of Christ, and now will look at the Deity of Christ. 

The word God (Theos), which is usually reserved for God alone, is used to refer to Jesus Christ several times. 

The word Lord (Kyrios) is also used of Christ.  (See Grudem's book for all the details). 

Other claims to deity include: 
when Jesus says, 
"before Abraham was, I am." 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega...the beginning and the end."  
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word WAS God." 

The phrases "son of man," and "son of God," had significant meaning in their contexts. 

Jesus possessed attributes of deity:
Omnipotence (stilled the storm with his words, changed water to wine, etc)
Eternity (when he speaks of his existence throughout time)
Omniscience (knowing people's thoughts)
Omnipresence (not during his lifetime, but he says, "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.)
Sovereignty (ability to forgive sins)
Immortality (inability to die finally) Christ does die, but has an active role in his own resurrection!  "I will raise it up." "I have the power to lay it (Jesus life) down and I have the power to take it again." 
Worthy to be worshiped, something due only to God alone. 

Did Jesus give up some of his divine attributes while on earth?  Grudem argues that Jesus changed his roles and status, but his essential attributes as a part of the deity remained while he lived on earth.  Jesus gave up his status and privilege. So, Jesus is fully divine. 

In 1977, a group of recognized church leaders in England published the book,"the Myth of God Icarnate,"  which makes some foundational assumptions. 
1. The bible is NOT an absolute divine authority for us today
2. Christianity is evolving and changing over time.

We see a dividing point here.  Either we believe in Christs full deity and the authority of scripture, or else we begin on a slippery slope of being able to deny everything in scripture as we choose. 

Here are three other historical views of the person of Christ that are inadequate.
1. Apollinarianism.  Christ had only a human body, his mind/spirit were divine.  (rejected in AD 362)
2. Nestorianism. Divine and human Jesus were two separate persons! (condemned in the 400's AD)
3. Monophysitism (Eutychianism).  Jesus divine and human nature are separate, yet combine to create a new third type of nature. (Denied, because in this case Christ cannot be truly God nor truly man.)

451 AD, the Chalcedonian definition was made, and is a standard, orthodox definition.  
"....truly God and truly man, consubstantial with the Father according to the God head....to be acknowledged in two natures, indivisibly, inseparably, the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person..."

We are able to point to aspects of the human nature and the divine nature with no problem between them.  For example, Jesus lay sleeping in the boat when the storm hit.  He was tired, YET he showed omnipotence by stilling the storm.  Tired yet all powerful!

To say that we cannot understand it is appropriate humility. To say that it is not possible seems more like intellectual arrogance. 

In general, what happens to either aspect of Jesus can be said of him as a whole.  Thus can Paul say, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."  The divinity of Christ cannot die, yet as a whole and in his human nature, Christ did die. 

This topic is the most amazing miracle in the whole Bible; that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever....what a miracle and mystery. 

Next time, chapter 27, the Atonement. 


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