Diverse religious opinions arise whenever individuals hold different views about a certain spiritual issue. Most people respect the opinion of others about a certain topic. People appreciate that rational individuals can in differ in opinion. However, these sensible and tolerant attitudes lead to the formulation of two distinct lines of thought where people align with groups that share similar opinions.
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For instance, Christians and Muslims believe in the existence of Jesus and they exalt, respect, and love him. However, they differ over the issue of his divinity. In a bid to solve this question, Christians refer to the Bible, while Muslims refer to the Quran. Despite referring to the major doctrines, believers do not agree with the claim that Jesus is God. Some will argue that both the Bible and the Quran explain that Jesus is not God. The antagonists claim that many people do not understand the teachings of the Bible, and claim that it is the mindset of many that the belief in Jesus as God is so widespread to qualify it to have its origin in the Bible (Adoni 14). This paper will show that Jesus is God and biblical teachings manifest that Jesus possessed the characteristics and abilities of God.
Understanding the most religious discussions to a point of taking sides requires extensive and critical evaluation of the issue. Applying some epistemological concepts is necessary before one can dispute other peoples’ beliefs regarding religious debates. One must first differentiate rationality from mere persuasiveness and the critical concepts driven by logic. The idea that individuals taking divergent opinions are opponents drives the debate towards the wrong direction. Religious discussions should target achieving the truth, and thus seeing others as opponents simply cut them off and beliefs that are perceived by some as true end up losing basis. Claiming Jesus is not God should not be seen as a denial of the truth, but as a way of searching the truth since every side is given the challenge to prove the credibility of its assertions.
Disagreement with peers about a religious belief in many cases makes one doubt about his/her beliefs. This essay will take a critical evaluation of this topic by referring to works of three authors who support the claim that Jesus is God and it will evaluate works by two authors who offer counter arguments about this topic.
Most non-Christians rightly know much about this topic and most importantly the contents of the Bible. However, they do not seem to consider the divine nature of the Bible; hence, they do not seek to abide by its doctrines. The message conveyed in the Bible declares that Jesus is indeed God and this message should not be taken as a mere construction among the Christian believers. Jesus was all-powerful just as God, but he took human nature to make people understand what God expected of human beings. According to Rice, Jesus is God and every Christian believer can find in the Bible adequate evidence of that fact (21).
Rice claims that lack of belief in Jesus as God is not based on the search for the truth or learning, but the desire to dispute what is conventional in Christology (37). Rice refers to the teachings of John to show that antagonists fail to believe in Christ not because they are stupid, but because they are stubborn and evil (40). The Bible quotes that Jesus possessed traits and capabilities of God within himself and this argument is sufficient to argue that Jesus is God (Rice 41). Jesus came to the world in human form, and thus the biblical explanation and his own clarification were necessary. Therefore, to search verses in the Bible and suggest that they teach Jesus as not God is a misinterpretation of the teachings. However, antagonists fail to understand that Jesus represented the only God taught in the Bible.
In his book, How God Became Jesus, Bird responds to Ehrman’s book, How Jesus Became God, by pointing out that Jesus’ divinity was independent of the ideas given by Ehrman about intermediary figures. Jesus was unique and different from intermediary figures because he was part of God’s identity (Bird 79). Furthermore, angels and other exalted beings did not share God’s power and God did not praise them, but Jesus received God’s praise. Bird states that Jesus was God as it was taught in the gospel of John (81). Contrary, Ehrman argues that John’s gospel emerged later as constructions of the church and it lacked historical basis (111).
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This assertion is inadequate since the gospels were written by men under the inspiration of God and they elaborated the activities of the early church. According to St. Paul, Jesus performed many miracles and said great things about himself, which no other exalted being possessed. God manifested himself through Jesus and Jesus was conveyed in human form to convince people to repent, but it did not mean that Jesus was different from God.
Apparently, Christianity is experiencing controversies about faith and belief in Jesus’ divinity. Antagonists develop a self-proclaimed knowledge about the Bible of which they use to counter those who have faith in Bible teachings. Copan claims that such intolerant thinkers should not stop Christians from discussing what they believe in (41). Prayer, patience, and practice can help one understand the Bible and learn how to respond in a manner that leads into a meaningful discussion with those who refute others’ faith. Copan shows that it is hard to share the belief that Jesus is God with those with the intention of showing the opposite (93).
In the early centuries, the Jews adhered strictly to monotheism, which formed the basic principle of the Old Testament that is advanced in the New Testament. This aspect shows that the “doctrine of Trinity presented one God who manifested himself in three forms, viz. the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit” (Copan 36). Jesus was the son meaning the he was God in the human form. Antagonists fail to understand this aspect, and thus they claim that the same Bible teaches of only one God and Jesus himself failed to declare himself God.
Both Christians and Muslims acknowledge that God is all- knowing and mighty. According to Ehrman, Jesus was not all-powerful because Mark’s gospel indicated that he failed to heal a blind man until a second attempt (74). Jesus did not claim himself to be God nor did his disciples believe so (Ehrman 74). Ehrman also argues that Jesus had shortcomings in his knowledge because he declared not to be aware when the last day would be as such knowledge belonged to God alone. These assumptions were some of the poorly interpreted statements that Jesus made. He was aware of the human nature and being the same as God, he could not reveal to humanity about what was supposed to remain unknown to man. The gospel of Luke shows that Jesus increased in knowledge and learned to obey (Ehrman 32).
Claiming that Jesus did not know everything since he learned new things is insufficient because Jesus was God, but he took human form and went through normal life for humankind to accept and understand his teachings. Ehrman also shows that only God is immortal since Jesus failed to defeat death on the cross (118). Contrary, no death had hold of him, but only his human form died and resurrected to an immortal being. His human attributes passed away, but not his godlike dimensions that defined him as God from the beginning to eternity. Claiming that exalted men like Moses were gods and so was Jesus is fallacious. Moses was used to convey God’s message to the people, but he was not worth of God’s praise unlike Jesus who represented God’s will and did not emphasize on self-proclamation about his divinity.
While most Christians will dispute claims that the New Testament is controversial, antagonists show that its teachings lacked historical basis. However, according to Adoni, Jesus is a mere prophet, but not God since he failed to proclaim that (40).
Jesus was a humble representation of God and self-proclamation about his divinity was evident in the way he performed miracles. Adoni claims that Jesus was an exalted son of man and the Old Testament teaches humankind not to trust the son of man (53).
From this perspective, Jesus is seen as not God, hence incapable of saving humanity. Adoni shows that the son of man cannot help fellow humankind since Jesus was given power, which he did not own. This aspect shows that God was acting through Jesus to reach humanity. If Jesus acted on his own, it would mean that there existed another God. In many occasions, Jesus worshiped, this fact caused problems to the Christians since it implied Jesus had a God to exalt. Antagonists question Christians why they should worship Jesus since he did not believe to be worth the honor. This aspect does not suggest that Christians “want Jesus to be their God since indeed he is God” (Bird 85). Jesus worshiped God to teach humanity of what was expected of them by the Father. The essence of taking human form was primarily to serve as example to humankind.
Disagreements between believers and non-believers are necessary to achieve the grounds upon which individuals can base their beliefs. However, what matters is not identifying which belief has a rationalized argument and the one that lacks the same, but delving further to have substantial evidence to support one’s claims. To know Jesus is to know the true righteousness of God. With the presence of Jesus, people gain knowledge about God. The Bible clearly indicates that Jesus was perfectly God, but he manifested in human nature. Through the teachings of the Bible, one can learn that Jesus is God and other opinions outside that framework are inventions that portray him in different identities.
Adoni, Sollog. Jesus Is Not God The Biblical Truth by Sollog, Florida: Adoni Publishing, 2013. Print.
Bird, Michael. How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature-a Response to Bart Ehrman, Michigan: Zondervan, 2014. Print.
Copan, Paul. True for You but Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2009. Print.
Ehrman, Bart. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, New York: Harper One, 2014. Print.
Rice, John. Is Jesus God? An Answer to Infidels in the Church and Out, Wheaton: Solid Christian Books, 2014. Print.