Patheos.com blogger John Shore (JohnShore.com), in his Christianity with Humanity blog, posted on April 16, 2014, “Dare to believe that Jesus was God.” Mr. Shore believes Jesus was and is God, and that’s what he’s telling us in this post. As of 4:55 PM April 20 (Easter)–three days later–he had a high amount of Comments–137. Shore is the author of four books and the founder of Unfundamentalist Christians.
In this post, John Shore tells Christians who have doubts that Jesus is divine/deity/God to dispense with our conscious minds and let our subconscious minds tell us Jesus is God. Heh, dude, that’s nonsense, as some of your commentators allege. Did the early Christians say stuff like that in trying to convince people that Jesus was the Messiah and that he arose from the dead? No!
Mr. Shore asserts, “a Christianity that says Jesus was not God is no Christianity at all.” Sir, you are quite wrong. That comes from later church creeds, not the Bible. And most of my Christian friends believe just what you are saying. I’ve undergone lots of rejection from them and many others because I’ve stayed faithful to what I believe the Bible says on this subject rather than adopting later church creeds and such. I still accept them as my friends in Christ even though some of them no longer regard me as such.
John Shore also tells us Jesus is Godbecause he did miracles and arose from the dead. John, who I’ve never met, I’ve got to call a spade a spade, here. That is shallow thinking. Most distinguished evangelical New Testament (NT) scholars, such as N.T. Wright, debunk that. How so? By the power of God, OT prophets and NT apostles and others did miracles. Elijah and Peter raised people from the dead. Do these things make them God or Gods? Hardly. And according to the NT, all true believers in Jesus as the Christ, Savior, and Lord, who die, will be raised from the dead at the resurrection. Will that make them Gods/gods?
In this post, Mr. Shore doesn’t provide any Bible reference to support his view that Jesus is God. (Oh, I guess that would be using your conscious mind.) And of those first 137 comments to his post, only the astute Steve Sensenig cited scripture, and I thought he gave many good responses.
Christians say they base their beliefs on the Bible. How about checking it out on this subject. First off, in all the NT gospel sayings of Jesus he never said he was God. Second, Jesus and NT writers constantly distinguish Jesus and God as two separate individuals, with Jesus repeatedly identifying the only true God, the God of the Bible, as “Father.” Third, in condemning Jesus to death the Jewish Sanhedrin never accused him of claiming to be God. That right there shows that they accepted Jesus’ denials of claiming to be God or a God in John 5.18-46 and 10.30-38. Fourth, the book of Acts, which tells what the early Jewish Christians preached, never says they proclaimed that Jesus was or is God. Fifth, saying Jesus is God because he is the Son of God is reasoning with Greek philosophical metaphysics that some church fathers used rather than appealing to what Jews said it means and how their Jewish Bible (OT) uses this expression, which means no more than one highly favored by God. Sixth, the primary NT image of God and Jesus is both of them sitting together on God’s throne in heaven, and no manner of mental gymnastics can get around the fact that that’s two Gods/gods sitting together if Jesus is God. Finally, if Jesus or his early disciples had publicly claimed he was God, they would have incurred more opposition from Jews than they did for claiming he was the Messiah, and we would read about it in the NT.
As some readers of this blog know, I’ve been an evangelical Christian for nearly 60 years, a serious Bible student for over 50 years, and I’ve had a public profile most of my adult life as a professional golfer with the PGA Tour. When I was 13 years old I became a Christian by believing what the Bible says, that Jesus died for my sins on the cross. It was not until I went to college and my church there taught me the post-apostolic church doctrine of the Trinity and therefore that Jesus is God. I believed it for 22 years. Then I entered into a very in-depth biblical study of this subject. Why?
One day during my private Bible reading God got my attention about Jesus’ words in his Olivet Discourse concerning the time of his return–“But of that day and/or hour no one knows, neither the angels of/in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father” (Mt 24.36/Mk 13/32). I had also been taught the correlary teaching of the hypostatic union, so that Jesus said that in his human nature, but he did know in his divine nature the time of his return because he being God knows everything. Plus, if the Father knows, then Jesus knows also because he is just as much God as the Father is.
I then thought, “That makes Jesus look like a liar because he said he didn’t know whereas he really did know.” I also thought it makes Jesus look schizophrenic. I then decided I had to take a very serious look at this subject.
During the next 28 years, I estimate I read about 1,000 books on the identity of Jesus. That’s besides all of my searching through many hundreds of Bible commentaries to look at what those authors said about the dozens of critical biblical texts on this subject. During this time I wrote a 600-page book on this subject which was published in 2008. I believe that this book, entitled The Restitution of Jesus Christ, may be the most formidable book to ever challenge the post-apostolic church dogma that Jesus is God while also affirming everything else the church has taught about Jesus. For more information visit my websites kermitzarley.com or servetustheevangelical.com. My following tract, “The Real Jesus,” represents a condensation of this book:
The Real Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth is the most famous man who has ever lived. But who was He? To learn about His identity, we must turn to the Bible. The New Testament presents Jesus as a seer-prophet, a teaching rabbi, an itinerant preacher, a wisdom sage, a charismatic healer, a miracle worker, and an exorcist. It applies to Him the titles Messiah/Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Savior, and Lord. It says He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life in obedience to God, and died on a cross due to sinful men. Yet Jesus’ suffering and death was according to God’s plan as atonement for the sins of others. For those who believe these things about Jesus, God will forgive them of their sins and give them eternal life.
The New Testament also claims that God vindicated Jesus by literally raising Him from the dead. It reveals that for the next forty days Jesus literally appeared to many of His disciples, after which He ascended from their midst into heaven. Then God exalted Jesus by inviting Him to sit with Him on His throne. The New Testament also reveals that Jesus will return to the earth someday, bringing with Him His promised and glorious kingdom. Then God will bring about the resurrection of His deceased people as well as judgment day.
During the next three centuries, the Catholic Church adhered faithfully to these scriptural teachings about Jesus. But in the fourth and fifth centuries, the Church added to its doctrine that Jesus was not only a man but also God by possessing two natures: a fully human nature and a fully divine nature, the latter called “the deity of Christ.” Through the Church’s councils and creeds, it pronounced that if anyone did not believe that Jesus was fully God—co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, in which it called these the three members of “the Trinity”—that person did not really believe in Jesus Christ at all and thus was not a genuine Christian. Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant church denominations still officially embrace these additional proclamations. And they insist that they clearly reflect the New Testament.
On the contrary, when the Catholic Church identified Jesus as God, it departed from the fundamental, biblical, Judeo-Christian teaching that God is “one,” called “monotheism.” It happened because, when the Church expanded into Gentile lands, it gradually (1) became rather anti-Semitic, (2) abandoned the established principle of using only scriptural terms and categories in order to identify Jesus, (3) went beyond Scripture by introducing Greek metaphysics into theology in order to identify Jesus more precisely, and therefore (4) interpreted Jesus’ status as “the Son of God” ontologically, thereby making this title synonymous with the word “God.” Instead, Jesus should be understood as the Son of God in a Jewish context, so that this title means One specially favored by God to be Israel’s Messiah.Jesus was not God because of the following biblical evidence or lack thereof:
There is no New Testament evidence that Jesus ever thought that He was God.
There is no New Testament evidence that Jesus ever claimed that He was God.
There is New Testament evidence that Jesus denied that He claimed to be God.
At Jesus’ examination before the Sanhedrin, He was never accused of claiming to be God.
The Bible regularly distinguishes between God and Jesus as two separate individuals.
The New Testament constantly interchanges the words “God” and “the Father.”
The New Testament repeatedly identifies “God” exclusively as “the Father.”
The New Testament contains no unambiguous statement such as “Jesus (Christ) is God.”
In the synoptic gospels and the book of Acts, Jesus clearly is never identified as “God.”
Thus, in the evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts, Jesus is never proclaimed as “God.”
Jesus was not God because Jesus said concerning Himself:
“Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).1
“the Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19, cf. v. 30).
“You,… make Yourself out to be God.” “I said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (John 10:33, 36).
“The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
“Father,… the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:1, 3).
“Jesus said to her, ‘I ascend to My Father … and My God and your God’” (John 20:17).
Jesus was not God because of the following additional Scriptures:
Jesus was visible, but God is “invisible” (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:17).
Jesus was approachable, but God “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16).
Jesus was tempted, but “God cannot be tempted by evil” (Mark 1:13; James 1:13).
Jesus was mortal, dying on a cross, but God is “immortal” (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16).
Jesus said that the Father is “the one and only God” (John 5:44).
Jesus said on the cross, “my god, my god, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:46).
Paul wrote that “God … is one” and “the only wise God” (Romans 3:30; 16:27).
Paul wrote that the Father is “the only God” and “only Sovereign” (1Timothy 1:17; 6:15).
Peter did not believe Jesus was God because he distinguished them:
“Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst” (Acts 2:22).
“Rulers and elders of the people,… Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:8, 10).
“God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).
Paul the monotheist did not believe Jesus was God because he wrote:
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
“There is no God but one…. there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Corinthians 8:4, 6).
“There is … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
“The God and Father of our/the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; cf. Ephesians 1:17).
“Christ belongs to God” because “God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:23; 11:3).
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (salutations 6x).
Jesus was not God because of the following logical reasons:
If Jesus did miracles by means of a divine nature, the Father did not do the works of Jesus.
If Jesus’ ability to do miracles was intrinsic, He did not need the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is totally self-sufficient, but Jesus needed the miracle-working power of God’s Spirit.
There is no biblical evidence that Jesus had two natures and wills, which is non-human.
God transcends His creation, so that being God is incompatible with being human.
God foreknew the yet future date of Jesus’ return to earth, but Jesus did not know it.
Thus, the New Testament does not teach that Jesus was God but that God sent Jesus,2 God was with Jesus,3 God was in Jesus,4 and God raised Jesus from the dead. The traditional view that Jesus was God is based mostly on only a few biblical texts.5 Most of them have grammatical problems, and Bible versions often differ as to whether they call Jesus “God.” Some are properly interpreted to mean God was in Christ. In sum, Jesus was not God but a virgin-born man who endured temptation, suffering, shame, trial, and death to provide salvation, and God vindicated and exalted Him for it. Praise Jesus and His God!
(To see a titled list of over fifty, two-three page posts (easily accessible) about the Bible not saying Jesus is God, click here.)
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.
2 It is stated over forty times in the Gospel of John that God “sent,” or did “send,” Jesus.
3 John 3:2; 8:29; 16.32; Acts 10:38; cf. John 1:1-2.
4 John 10:38; 14:10-11; 17:21; 2 Corinthians 5:19.
5 The most prominent are the following: Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1, 18; 10:30-38; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20.