Archive for the 'Deity of Christ' Category

Is Jesus a God and not the God?

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Spencer D Gear

Colored in Cross

ChristArt

It is common among some cults that they do not acknowledge Jesus Christ’s deity as being God. It was promoted in the early days of the Christian church by Arians. Two contemporary examples of an Arian philosophy would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christadelphians.

The Jehovah’s Witness view of John 1:1

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

I first encountered this quote when a Jehovah’s Witness was in my house sharing his views and when I challenged him, he leapt from the seat and left his trusty trouble shooting manual behind. This is called, Reasoning from the Scriptures (1985:212-213). However, it is now available online:

Does John 1:1 prove that Jesus is God?

John 1:1, RS: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [also KJ, JB, Dy, Kx, NAB].” NE reads “what God was, the Word was.” Mo says “the Logos was divine.” AT and Sd tell us “the Word was divine.” The interlinear rendering of ED is “a god was the Word.” NW reads “the Word was a god”; NTIV uses the same wording.

What is it that these translators are seeing in the Greek text that moves some of them to refrain from saying “the Word was God”? The definite article (the) appears before the first occurrence of the·os? (God) but not before the second. The articular (when the article appears) construction of the noun points to an identity, a personality, whereas a singular anarthrous (without the article) predicate noun before the verb (as the sentence is constructed in Greek) points to a quality about someone. So the text is not saying that the Word (Jesus) was the same as the God with whom he was but, rather, that the Word was godlike, divine, a god. (See 1984 Reference edition of NW, p. 1579.)

What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1? Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father? In the same chapter, John 1 verse 18, John wrote: “No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (RS) Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son? Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God? Obviously not. Toward the end of his Gospel, John summarized matters, saying: “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, [not God, but] the Son of God.”—John 20:31, RS (Watchtower Online Library: Jesus Christ n d)

That is very clear. The JW view is that John 1:1 does not teach the deity of Christ but that Jesus is ‘a god’. John was teaching that Jesus was obviously not God. That’s JW false teaching, as we will see below.

Denial of Jesus’ deity by the Christadelphians

Christadelphian Hall in Bath, United Kingdom (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In an article, “Why was Jesus Christ?” the Christadelphians wrote:

These New Testament Scriptures make it clear that the teaching of the Old and New Testaments is entirely consistent. Throughout the Bible the message is that God is One, not three persons in one Godhead….

For us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:6);

There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… (1 Timothy 2:5);

Keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He (God) will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honour and everlasting power. Amen (1 Timothy 6:14-16).

Notice how careful Scripture is at all times to distinguish between the Father and the Son. God is the source and originator of everything. He dwells in unapproachable light and has never been seen by any mortal. Jesus is His Son and came into existence when he was born of the virgin Mary by the power of God – the Holy Spirit. He is described as “the man Christ Jesus” (Ipswich Christadelphians n d).

So there you have it. Jesus is not God; he is the man Christ Jesus and there is no Trinity. That’s Christadelphian false teaching as the following biblical data will demonstrate.

Pushing Arianism on an evangelical forum

 

What is Arianism? Matt Slick of CARM summarised this heretical view promoted by some in the early church:

Arianism developed around 320, in Alexandria Egypt concerning the person of Christ and is named after Arius of Alexandar (sic).[1]  For his doctrinal teaching he was exiled to Illyria in 325 after the first ecumenical council at Nicaea condemned his teaching as heresy.  It was the greatest of heresies within the early church that developed a significant following.  Some say, it almost took over the church.

Arius taught that only God the Father was eternal and too pure and infinite to appear on the earth.  Therefore, God produced Christ the Son out of nothing as the first and greatest creation.  The Son is then the one who created the universe.  Because the Son relationship of the Son to the Father is not one of nature, it is, therefore, adoptive.   God adopted Christ as the Son.  Though Christ was a creation, because of his great position and authority, he was to be worshipped and even looked upon as God.  Some Arians even held that the Holy Spirit was the first and greatest creation of the Son.

At Jesus‘ incarnation, the Arians asserted that the divine quality of the Son, the Logos, took the place of the human and spiritual aspect of Jesus, thereby denying the full and complete incarnation of God the Son, second person of the Trinity.

In asserting that Christ the Son, as a created thing, was to be worshipped, the Arians were advocating idolatry (Slick n d).

However, even on an evangelical forum on the Internet, this kind of teaching emerged through the deceptiveness of a person wanting to push his Arian epistemology that denies the deity of Jesus Christ. A person wrote:

The word was a God but not Almighty God that is the difference.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God.
They missed the A out, it’s obvious to any one reading that line of scripture’
Almighty God did not come in the flesh, it was his only begotten son that came, that’s why just before his death Jesus prayed to his Father and said let your will be done not mine.
Then when he was being put to death he said My God! My God! why have you forsaken me.
So there is no Controversy about that Jesus is not his Father God Almighty.
Your treating Jesus if he was some sort of Con-man, play acting, how disrespectful is that.
I am sorry to the board if I am not allowed to discuss it on this forum, but it’s very important as lives are at stake.
[2]

A person responded: ‘This is false. The (sic) is no justification to add an “a” so the John 1:1 says “…the word was a god.” It’s just not in the original. Also, there is no difference between “Almighty God” and “God”’.[3]

How does one respond to someone who claims that Jesus is not God? Earlier in the thread, this promoter of Arian, anti-deity of Jesus, stated,

What did the apostle John mean when he wrote John 1:1?
He said the word was God but not Almighty God, did he?
Did he mean that Jesus is himself God or perhaps that Jesus is one God with the Father?
In the same chapter, verse 18, John wrote: “No one [“no man,” KJ, Dy] has ever seen God; the only Son [“the only-begotten god,” NW], who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (RS)
Had any human seen Jesus Christ, the Son?
Of course! So, then, was John saying that Jesus was God?
Obviously not.
[4]

My response was:[5]

If one does not understand the nuances of Greek grammar, there will be a translation of John 1:1 like that in the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which reads, ‘In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with god, and the Word was a god‘ (NWT, John 1:1, emphasis added).

To the person unfamiliar with Greek grammar, this looks like a reasonable translation as the Greek for ‘and the Word was a god’ (NWT) in the Greek is kai theos en ho logos (transliteration of the Greek). You will notice that theos is not ho theos. Therefore, to the untrained eye it could be translated ‘and a God was the Word’ or ‘the word was a god’.

However, The Granville Sharp Rule of Greek grammar refutes this JW translation. In English, if we want to indicate the predicate nominative after the verb to be, it is indicated by its place in the sentence – after the verb. That is not so in Greek as word order does not indicate meaning. Conjugation and declension of words determine their places and meaning in a sentence. [In my part of the English-speaking world, what is called the predicate nominative of a sentence in the USA is called the complement of a sentence.]
The Granville Sharp Rule means that to help us determine which is the subject of a sentence and which is the predicate nominative, the definite article is dropped before the noun that is the predicate nominative – when the verb to be is used in the sentence.

So in this section of John 1:1 we have, kai theos [predicate nominative] en ho logos [subject]. Therefore, based on correct Greek grammar, the translation is: ‘And the Word was God’ or to emphasise this, we could correctly translate as, ‘The Word was the God’.

Thus, the JW translation has not taken into consideration how one identifies the predicate nominative from the subject nominative of a sentence using the verb ‘to be’. The link to the fuller explanation I have given above of the Granville Sharp Rule provides other NT Greek examples of its use.

To the JW, Arian promoter, I responded:

You make this kind of statement that Jesus, the Word, is only a God because you are ignorant of the Greek grammar. When you don’t understand the Granville Sharp Rule of Greek grammar, you will come to your ungrammatical kind of JW translation that ‘the word was a God’. See my fuller explanation above.

You call yourself ‘kingdomfirst’. Are you a member or are you promoting the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower view of the non-deity of Jesus Christ?

Your knowledge of Greek grammar is deficient. That’s what causes you to mistranslate John 1:1 as ‘the Word was a God’.[6]

What biblical evidence is there to affirm Jesus as God?

See:

clip_image002 Sue Bohlin,Jesus claims to be God’;

clip_image002[1] Matt Slick, ‘Jesus is God’;

clip_image002[2] Norman Geisler, ‘The uniqueness of Jesus Christ’;

clip_image002[3] Matt Slick,Bible verses that show Jesus is Divine’;

clip_image002[4] Bill Pratt, ‘Did Jesus’s Disciples Think He Was God? Part 1’;

clip_image002[5] Bill Pratt,Did Jesus’s Disciples Think He was God? Part 2’;

clip_image002[6] Matt Perman,How can Jesus be God and man?

clip_image002[7]Spencer Gear,Was Jesus omniscient while on earth?

The Nicene Creed rejects Arianism and promotes orthodox Christianity. It states:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (gennethenta), not made, being of one substance (homoousion consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (en pote hote ouk en), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion51—all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them (Wikisource 2013).

Works consulted

Cairns, E E 1981. Christianity through the centuries: A history of the Christian church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Ipswich Christadelphians n d. Who was Jesus Christ? (online). Available at: http://www.ipswichchristadelphians.info/index.php/component/content/article/13-minute-meditations/105-120819a (Accessed 4 October 2013). This is Ipswich in the United Kingdom.

Reasoning from the Scriptures 1985. Brooklyn, New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

Slick, M n d. Arianism (online). CARM, available at: http://carm.org/arianism (Accessed 4 October 2013).

Watchtower Online Library n d. Jesus Christ (online). Available at: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989240 (Accessed 4 October 2013).

Notes:


[1] Arius was a presbyter to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in AD 318 or 319 and Alexander ‘preached to his presbyters on “The Great Mystery of the Trinity in Unity.” One of the presbyters, Arius, an ascetic scholar and popular preacher, attacked the sermon because he believed that it failed to uphold a distinction among the persons in the Godhead. In his desire to avoid a polytheistic conception of God, Arius took a position that did injustice to the true deity of Christ’. The orthodox view promoted by Athanasius and others was that ‘Christ had existed from all eternity with the Father and was of the same essence (homoousios) as the Father, although He was a distinct personality…. Christ was coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial with the Father’. This wasaffirmed at the Council of Nicea in 325 (Cairns 1981:133-134).

[2] Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, ‘The Holy Trinity’, kingdomfirst#136, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7775663-14/ (Accessed 4 October 2013, emphasis in original). I suspect that this person is a Jehovah’s Witness or a person of similarArian belief who is promoting his views. This seems to be inferred by his statement above, ‘I am sorry to the board if I am not allowed to discuss it on this forum, but it’s very important as lives are at stake’. By 5 October 2013, this post had been removed from this Christian Forums; thread because, I expect, of kingdomfirst’s violation of the Statement of Faith of Christian Forums’ website, which affirms the content of the Nicene Creed (his post was not able to be accessed 5 October 2013).

[3] TomZzyzx #142, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7775663-14/ (Accessed 4 October 2013). However, because kingdomfirst’s posts have been removed, some of the other links to his posts, including my own as OzSpen, could have been removed from the thread.

[4] This is part of what kingdomfirst#120, ibid, wrote.

[5] OzSpen#146, ibid.

[6] OzSpen#147, ibid.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.