Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Divinity of Jesus Revisited

 FFr
 By my friend and former colleague, the Revd. Dan Weir.   Reproduced with his permission

The Divinity of Jesus Revisited




There have been a few responses – here and on Facebook – to my previous post. MadPriest – one of my favorite bloggers – commented on the problem of dualism, “the splitting of the spiritual and the bodily” which leads to seeing matter as inferior to spirit. Dualism is not part of the tradition of Jerusalem, but of Athens, and the witness of the Scriptures is that matter is good. The Christian's hope for eternal life is not for a disembodied life, but for the resurrection of the body."

Another comment focused my thinking on the question of the two natures of Jesus the Christ. Again I see the underlying problem with much of our Christology as a dependence on substantialistic philosophical language. Again its the tradition of Athens that has led us to think in terms of being, rather than of being-with, which is the tradition of Jerusalem. “Does Jesus have two natures?” is wrong question, or, at least, a question that we can't answer. The questions that we can answer are, “Is Jesus one with us in our humanity?” and “Is Jesus Emmanuel God-with-us?” The apostolic witness, with no mention at all of two natures, was that in this human person they met God. In some way, which they could not explain, Jesus was the revelation of the God of Israel, the one true God. We try to explain that at our peril and always get it more or less wrong. We shouldn't stop thinking about God, stop reading and writing theology, but we need to be willing to see where some theology might lead us astray.

What seems to me to be lost in much of the talk about the divinity of Jesus, is that Jesus was – and is – theocentric. The man we meet in the Gospels was centered upon God, upon Abba. He pointed not to himself but to Abba, and unless our Christology is theocentric, rather than christocentric, we are missing the point. Seeing Jesus as the one who perfectly represents God to us and us to God is, I think, much more helpful – and faithful to Scripture – than the two natures Christology. Representation is relational, and not substantialistic, and the Good News is about God's desire to be in relationship with us. While it may border on heresy, my reading of Scripture has led me to believe that God wants to be God only in relationship with us and with all creation. Or, as my friend Fr. Aaron Usher used to say, Jesus invites us to get intimate with the ultimate.

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