IS JESUS GOD? Who can crack that nut? Any one?

By:  George Nedumparambil George Nedumparambil is not new to CCV readers. He has been here before, to raise thought provoking questions – the more provocking  the better it is for the CCV readers. That alone can give sleepless nights and days to all of us to get some things worthwhile done!

He wrote his first article THE BODY AND BLOOD CONUNDRUM and CCV its editorial comment. Both appeared in the CCV of 21/12/18, and are easily retraceable. Since reading them is highly educative, please try to do it, you will not be disappointed. 

Ernakulam boy

George is an Ernakulam boy of yore from Nettoore who did his schooling at Sacred Heart High School, Thevara but didn't have the money to continue his education at their college opposite the street.  Back then learning typing and shorthand was a passport to employment provided one is prepared to leave home which is what he did then. 

Leaving home he landed in Bombay to complete his typing  etc. There he took his BA in Economics from University of Mumbai and also banking-specific certification CAIIB and CDCS and shuttled between Mumbai and UAE spending 44 years. In Bahrain he was holding a middle management level  while retiring. He is now 70. 

He and his wife Mabel now lives in Palarivattom, and their children,  first a girl works for a bank in Toronto, Canada  while second one, a boy, lives in UK doing Equity Research as a freelancer after about 10 years working for others.  Both are citizens of their respective country of residence.  

Bible marketers?

His interest in matters religious was a post retirement development.  He just couldn't understand the religious fervor that existed among the people in his neighborhood, nor can we.  On top of it,  there was Bible carrying marketers of Jesus canvassing him for his  attendance at their services.  Often competing groups visited him.

This prompted him to find out what they were selling and why people were crowding church services complete with well attended Novena services. So he decided to study Bible – and we salute you for it — and  soon discovered that in doing so he ended up opening a Pandora's box, fully convinced that Catholic beliefs and practices are far removed from Jesus and his teachings  and decided to go public with his views. We are descovering the same as well! 

Redo Catholicism!

He believes massive re-engineering and re-writing of basics of faith and worship procedure are needed in Catholicism. So in this piece he takes 36 potshots at Jesus, from that many different angles, hoping I guess to get a complete picture of him. At the first shot itself, didn’t  a doubting Thomas, give the complete image of him, when he burst out: “My Lord and my God?” What is more, didn’t the whole credulous world swallow it, without questioning? Then  why at it again? Just to Chew the cud? To make sure, it is doubly digested? That is admirable George, at your age. 

A second thought instead is creating problems! Is not Jesus  presented also as the role model for imitation for the whole of  humanity? If God, how can anyone imitate God? If God, how can anyone lock him up in any Cathedral, church, chapel or tabernacle? Doesn’t it look stupid, to say the least? 

Follow George Questioning

But nothing is impossible with God, it is said; can’t he make 4 + 4 = not 8 but eight million?  Didn’t he fill the hungry stomachs of 5000 with just five loaves? If he did that, at least some of us may  have to double check the facts! Some are doing it. So let that research continue! In the meantime let us follow George to see where he leads us. james kottoor, editor CCV.

Read Below George’s article: Is Jesus God?

Jesus means many things to many.  For most Christians he is God. For some he is just Son of God.  For some, he is just a fictional character.  But there is no second opinion that Jesus remains the most influential person ever to have set foot on planet earth.   

Jesus may have been God; who am I to say he wasn’t. But, based on what I understood from the Bible, I have come to the conclusion that it was overkill on the part of circa AD300 theologians to have declared Jesus God, probably out of “Jesus-Love” or “Jesus-mania” that nothing short of such a declaration would have served the purpose of their declaration of loyalty to Jesus, a case of being more loyal to Jesus than Jesus himself.  

Or, perhaps with control of the faith passing from people of Jewish background to Roman pagans it was necessary to invent a human god to keep them interested in the new faith.  I think that he could  have been anything but not God.  For my analysis I am assuming everything recorded in the Bible (including the very existence of God and Jesus)  is the truth. I am also not considering controversies regarding additions and deletions to Gospels that are reported to have occurred. 

Jesus has described himself to be the Light, the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 8: V.12 and John 14: v.6-7).  As the Light, we can presume that he will not leave any blind spots or dark alleys in our understanding of him. As the Way, we can presume that he had laid down the way clearly in such a way that we would know which way to turn to if street signs are missing.  As the Truth, we can presume that he has told the truth, nothing but the truth (and not even half truths).  As Life, we can presume that by following him and living by his teachings we can be assured of Eternal Life on Resurrection Day The point that I am trying to make is that Jesus has to mean what he says; that his sayings are clear, unambiguous and not capable of being misunderstood or misinterpreted.   If that is the case, there can’t be absolutely any scope for anyone to read between the lines or go on a fishing expedition or extrapolate his teachings to get at what he really meant to convey.  If Jesus was telling us the truth, then it goes without saying that God the Father has also told us the truth, nothing but the truth. 

Consider this: Jesus speaks to his Father in John 15 V. 17 “consecrate them in the truth – your word is truth”.  So, we have it direct from Jesus that sayings of his Father are the truth and should be taken as such. With this introduction, I now turn to the Gospels, taking for granted that both the Father and Son had said the truths. 

  1. Consider, Mathew 3 v. 17 “At the same time a voice from heaven was heard, “This is my Son, the Beloved, he is my Chosen one”.  God makes a clear declaration that Jesus is his Son, meaning someone who came into being after the Father himself had been. Secondly Jesus is the chosen one; presumably God had others to choose from. 

  1. Consider, Mathew 17 v. 5, “Peter was still speaking when a bright cloud covered them in its shadow and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, The Beloved, my Chosen One.  Listen to him”. This is the second time around that God has told us that Jesus was His Son (and not God himself. God instructs the disciples that they are to be guided by the teachings (listen to him) of Jesus.  

  1. Did Jesus teach them that he was God?  The answer is “No. It is mentioned in John 14: 6 “No one comes to the Father but through me”. The word “through” in John 14:6, when read with God’s command “listen to him”, things become clearer to us that it is in living by Jesus’ teachings that one could attain Eternal Life and eventually share in the Kingdom of God. Through these words Jesus makes it clear that he is just a conduit to God. 

  1. Consider, Mathew 16 v.15-17, Jesus asked him, “But you, who do you, say I am?”  Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.  Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven”.  If Jesus was God he could not have said so to Peter.  It is a confirmation from Jesus himself that he was not God. 

  1. Consider Mark 1 v.1 “This is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”. Mark was in no doubt that Jesus was the Son of God (and not God himself). 

  1. Consider Mark 12 v.29. Jesus answered (in reply to a question as to which commandment is the first of all), “The first is: Hear Israel! The Lord, our Lord, is One Lord; and you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength”. 

  2.  Who was Jesus speaking to? The Jews. What was their concept of God? They called Him “Yahweh” and He was the Just One, having no other god besides him. Jesus confirms the same through this verse. He also makes another important declaration when he says “our Lord” which means Jesus equates himself with the people (as against most Christians equating him with God) and declares that their god is his god too! 

  1.  This has been reconfirmed by the risen Jesus once again: after the Father had raised Jesus from his tomb, (John 20: v.17)  Jesus said to Mary of Magdalena, “Do not cling to me; you see I have not yet ascended to the Father, who is your Father, to my God, who is your God”.  The risen Lord himself is telling that both he and we the earthlings have the same God and the same Father!   What more do we need to conclude that God almighty is the Father?

  2. Consider Luke 1: v.32-33, “He will be great and shall rightly be called son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end”. The angel continues (v.35) “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God”.   

  1. Who are angels? They are the soldiers of God, so to say.  They carry out assignments as instructed by God. God is referred twice as “Most High” and Jesus as Son of that Most High. What are we to understand? That the Most High is God and Jesus Son born of Him.  

  1. Consider Luke 10: v.22, “Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will, I have been given all things by my Father so that no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”.   Jesus is seen acknowledging to his Father that all that he has all are gifts from the Father and not inherent in himself, clearly pointing to the superiority of the Father.   

  1. Consider Luke 22: v. 70, in chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am”.  So, we have it from Jesus himself again that he is Son of God (and not God himself).  

  1.  It is a known fact that evil one (devil) knows the holy one and vice versa. The evil one sees things that the normal human beings can’t.  Consider, Mathew 4: v.3 “Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, order these stones to turn into bread”. The devil knew who Jesus was.  Consider, Mark 5: v.6, “When he saw Jesus afar, he ran and fell at his feet and cried with a loud voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, son of Most High God?”.  Who told this possessed person that Jesus was Son of God? It was the evil spirit in him that was doing the talking.  

  1. So, if Jesus was recognized as Son of God by the devil that has powers far beyond the reach of humans, are we far from the truth if we also believed in Jesus as the Son God (and not God himself)?  Would the devil have dared to come face to face with God, let alone confront him? So, any argument that the devil’s intention was to misguide the Gospel writers would not cut ice. 

  1.  Consider what Jesus spoke in Mathew 24: v.36 “But as for that Day and that Hour, no one knows when it will come, not even the angels of God nor the Son, but only the Father”.  Being Jesus, he can be presumed to be telling the truth here because he is the Truth. Jesus could not have been God if he didn’t know when the end will come.  Consider also Mathew 23: v.9 “Neither should you call anyone on earth Father, because you have only one Father, he who is in heaven”.  (We call our priests “Father” and Pope “Holy Father” in grave violation of Jesus’ command!!) With this saying, Jesus makes a statement about the unique status of the Father as someone above everything else including himself. Again consider Mathew 26 v.63-64 “…Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” Jesus answered; “It is just as you say.”

  1. Now, I come to John.  His prologue in his Gospel, contained in Chapter 1: v.1-18, I suspect, is the primary reason that led to Jesus being declared as God. If we accept this theory, what we are actually saying is that Jesus was a “killable” version of God.  It simply does not add up to the commonly understood characteristics of God as being omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. John says, “Word was with God and Word was God: he was in the beginning with God”.   

  1. The verse 14 reading “And the Word was made flesh”   suggests that “he” refers to “Word” and in turn to “Jesus”; meaning Word equal to Jesus; Jesus equal to God. That is what plain reading telling us. But when we consider John 7: v.16 “My teaching is not mine, but it comes from the One who sent me” we are immediately placed into a dilemma:  Is Jesus a bearer of the Word or God himself.  So, which one is correct? Is Jesus God or a bearer, a messenger?  I think the answer is in John 1: v.1-18 as when we consider these verses in its entirety, what we see is the Mighty One, the Father, is actually in driver’s seat  with Jesus serving as His helper. 

  1. Consider John 1:v. 3 “All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be”. The words “were made through him” signify that the Creator is another person and Jesus was serving merely as an instrument in the hands of the Creator. Consider John 1: v.10 “He was already in the world and through him the world was made”.  What do the underlined words signify? Although Jesus was there with the Father before earth was created, in creating it, Jesus was used by the Father. We have therefore to conclude that Jesus served the Father dutifully during the process of creation of earth and everything on it.  Otherwise the word “through” should have been “by” which is not the case here. Things become more clearer to us when we consider Mark 13: v. 19 where Jesus is seen speaking, “For this will be a time of distress such as was never known from the beginning when God created the world, until now and is never to be known again”. So, Jesus had made it clear that the creator is God the Father and not Jesus. 

  1. Why would John have introduced the concept of Jesus being God?  We do not see what is described in John Chapter 1 in other Gospels or see them reflected in the teachings of Apostles in Acts.  I do not wish to speculate but it is significant to note that in Mathew 3 and 17 we saw God coming in the clouds and declaring Jesus as His Son but these two incidents are not reported in John’s Gospel and John was present on both occasion!  Why? Was it a deliberate omission so that his projecting of Jesus as God may not run into direct conflict with what God the Father would say about Jesus being his Son? Or was he eager to show fulfillment of what Prophet Isaiah prophesied in 9:v.5 “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”?  Whatever be his motive, in fairness to John we notice that he rapidly unmakes Jesus from God to Son of God as seen below. 

  1. Consider John 3: v. 16, “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life.  Consider the statement by John the Baptist (who we know was filled with Holy Spirit) in John 1: v. 34 “Yes, I have seen and I declare that this is the Chosen One of God.”  He does not say God-incarnate.  Also, towards the end of his Gospel, John says, “These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20: v.31).

  1. When we consider John further (as well as other Gospels) we learn that Jesus never taught his disciples to worship him.   It is true that disciple Thomas said “You are my Lord and my God” (John 20: v.28).  Luke 24: v. 51 reads “And as he blessed them, he withdrew (and was taken to heaven. They worshipped him).  But these responses are mere human behavioral pattern or mere spontaneous reactions.  

  1. We cannot form our beliefs around such responses nor could regard them as overriding the teachings of Jesus.  If we did, then run into trouble with what Judas did. He killed himself brooding over his sin. Are we supposed to do the same that whenever a grave sin is committed by any one of us we are required to repent and then go kill ourselves. Or run away when push comes to shove as the disciples did when Jesus was arrested and even deny your Christianity if need be as Peter did? On the other hand, Jesus clearly describes what true worship is. 

  1.  Consider John 4: v.23, Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman “But the hour is coming and is even here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for that is the kind of worshippers the Father wants”. In teaching the disciples “Our Father who art in Heaven”, (popularly known as Lord’s Prayer) Jesus is lying down a command  that prayers are to be addressed to the Father. Consider Luke 4: v.8 Jesus replies to the devil, “But, Scripture says: You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him alone”. The important point to be noted is that Jesus did not make any amendment to the worship procedure (other than that mentioned in point 15 below besides putting an end to all kinds of sacrifices) that existed before his coming – worship Yahweh or God the Father alone. Even in Revelations, the angel tells John twice “Worship God alone”. 

  1. If Jesus wants us to worship the God, then what is the role of Jesus?  Jesus has said that he is seated in heaven at the right hand of God the Father. Doing what? Jesus says in John 16: v.23 “When that day comes you will not ask me anything.  Truly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my Name, he will give.  So far you have not asked in my Name; ask and receive that your joy may be full”. Jesus is giving out an important instruction to the disciples that all prayers are to be addressed to the Father and submitted in the name of Jesus.  Jesus is placing himself as an intercessor between God the Father and us.  It is worthwhile noting in 1 Timothy 2: v. 5-6 reading, “As there is one God, there is one mediator between God and humankind.  Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave his life for the redemption of all”. There are several more verses elsewhere in the Gospel pointing to Jesus’ role as an intercessor. God has entrusted earth and everything on it including us to Jesus but it does not mean that Jesus replaces the Father as far as we earthlings are concerned.  The placing of him as an intercessor is a change that Jesus has brought out from the Old Testament beliefs. The Old Testament people did not keep any intercessor with God which is understandable as there was a commandment from God not to. 

  1.  Also, all their Prophets were humans.  But, Jesus on the other hand is Son of God, a heavenly spirit so to say. When we submit our prayers to the Father and worship Him in Jesus’ name, we are actually making a declaration that we have accepted Jesus and his teachings which, by the way, is one of the qualifying requirements for to be considered for Eternal Life.  In this respect, consider John 12: v.49-50 “For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has instructed me in what to say and how to speak.  I know that his commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed me”.  

  1. Sayings from Jesus such as “I and Father are one”, “Those who have seen me has seen the Father” and “Father is in me and I in him” express nothing but the perfection of unity   in thoughts, words and deeds that the Son has been anointed with by the Father for his earthly mission so much so if the God had himself come down it would not have been any different from what Jesus taught.  Consider John 14: v. 20, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you”. Jesus is speaking to his disciples.  Surely he could not have intended that the disciples will become equal to Jesus and by extension to Father with the use of the word “in” (which I suppose got interpreted as “equal to equal” by some) but merely saying that the disciples will achieve perfection in unity with Jesus and Father.  Consider John 17 v.20 Jesus is praying to his Father, “I pray not only for these but also for those who through their word will believe in me.  May they all be one as you Father are in me and I am in you.  May they be one in us; so the world may believe that you have sent me. Consider John 17 v.22-23 Jesus is praying, “I have given them the Glory you have given me, that they may be one as we are one:  I in them and you in me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity and the word shall know that you have sent me and that I have loved them just as you love me”.  Jesus himself declared through these verses that the terms “one” and “in” refer to “perfection of unity”.  Any extrapolation of these two terms to establish Jesus and Father is one and the same person is therefore an exaggeration, failed further when we consider John 14: v.28, where Jesus speaks “If you loved me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I”.  

  1. Consider John 9: v.36 “Then what should be said of the one anointed and sent into the world by the Father?  Am I insulting God when I say: “I am the Son of God”?  Jesus was replying to the accusation that he equated himself with God.  So, what message do we get from here?  Jesus is seen agreeing with the Jews that if he had equated himself with God he would commit blasphemy.  Majority of Christians equate Jesus with God, Are they unknowingly or knowingly committing blasphemy in doing so?  

  1. Now, I come to what Jesus said in Mathew 28: v.18-20 “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth, Go therefore, and make disciples from all nations.  Baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to fulfill all that I have commanded you.  I am with you always until the end of this world”.  The words “I have been given” signify that what Jesus has is a delegated authority, clearly pointing to a superior One above him.  I now turn to “Holy Spirit”.

  1. What or who is Holy Spirit?  Mathew quotes Prophet Isaiah’s prophesy “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, and with whom I am pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him and he will announce my judgment to the nations” (Mathew 12: v.18). We learn from Acts 2: v.17 where Prophet Joel is quoted “in the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on every mortal. Your sons and daughters will speak through the Holy Spirit; your young men will see visions and your old men will have dreams.  In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants, both men and women, and they will be prophets”. 

  1.  The word “I” stands for Yahweh the God.  So, we get enough guidance that Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God.  Now, let us take a look at Mathew 10: v. 19-20, Jesus is speaking to the disciples “But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it, when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say.  For it is not you who will speak; but it will be the Spirit of your Father in you”.  So, we have it direct from Jesus that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God the Father. 

  1.  In John 15: v.26, “From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of Truth.  When this Helper has come from the Father, he will be my witness”. Jesus says twice “from the Father”, reaffirming that Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. Consider John 16: v.13, “When he, the Spirit of Truth comes he will guide you into the whole truth. He has nothing to say of himself but he will speak of what he hears and he will tell you of the things to come”.  

  1. So, Holy Spirit is like a chip that is implanted in the mind of the disciples and it gets activated by the person controlling it, in this case Jesus because for this limited purpose God the Father has entrusted Holy Spirit to Jesus, confirmation of which comes in Acts 2: v.22-23 reading, “This Messiah is Jesus and we are all witnesses that God raised him to life.  He has been exalted at God’s right side and the Father has entrusted the Holy spirit to him; this Spirit he has just poured upon us as you now see and hear”

  1. My analysis as above leads me to the conclusion that the Father is God; Jesus is Son of God and unequal to God and Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God.  If so, how come the Christians believe Jesus is God and in the concept of Trinity? It is worth noting John 17: v.3 where Jesus says who the true God is, “For this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the One you sent, Jesus Christ”.  

  1. This brings me to Trinity, which by the way, is not discussed either in the Old or New Testament. It is to be remembered that by AD300 the control of the faith had fallen fully into the hands of pagans mainly Romans. They had many gods and for them the emperor was a god too.  So they even had a living god. In the backdrop of this, it may have become necessary to invent the concept of Trinity and to view Jesus as a member of the Trinity and hence be default God. Had the control of the faith remained in the hands of Christians of Jewish origin, this would not have come about for this concept is foreign to the beliefs they were brought up with.   So, when viewed from the totality of Bible as one document, Jesus’ command “Baptize In the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, I would think that the expanded version of this command is “Baptize in the name of Father, the only true God, and the one sent by Him Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God the Father that will be poured out on to you”. Where is Trinity in here? Not there at all.

  1. Lastly, I come to the obedience and humbleness of Jesus.  The belief evolved, I suppose in round AD 300, that Jesus was equal to God but at the same time in his human form he was obedient and humble to his Father and therefore never claimed equality.  He may have been in the form and likeness of God (even we are created in that form) but cannot be equal. Let us consider this in perspective.  

  1. Suppose Jesus asks Pope Francis to leave Vatican and go to the jungles of Amazon and preach the Gospel to the primitive natives still untouched by civilization there and the Pope agrees and leaves. That would be obedience. But, having landed in Amazon if the Pope were to tell them stories that show him differently from what and who he actually is, then by no stretch of imagination it can be called obedience and humbleness but that Pope had chosen himself to hold back truth and instead cooked up stories.  He would forfeit then any claim to him being the “truth”. It is my understanding what Jesus says in John 17: v. 4-5 settles the issue, Jesus is praying to his Father “I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do.  Now, Father, give me in your presence the same Glory I had with you before the world began”. That is being humble and obedient – agreeing to leave his pride of place alongside the Father and come and live as a human being and suffer all kind of indignities that are the hallmark of earthly existence.  

A final point, will the Christian faith be weakened if Jesus is declared Son and that there is no Trinity? It is my belief that it will strengthen the faith. Whatever beliefs we are saddled with arose mainly out of some theological action around AD 300 and every subsequent generation have lived out their lives convincing themselves that the decisions of that generation were correct. It is time to take a re-look.  Hopefully, the Catholic faith being the dominant faction will lead the way. 

PS:- Those of you who would like to challenge me, please do me a favour by mentioning chapter and verse numbers to justify yourselves. 

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