Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jesus: Redefined by Committee

Eastern Orthodox Icon, Council of Nicaea
On September 17, Americans celebrated Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by a convention of delegates in Philadelphia in 1787. It was the result of a grand compromise in which States received two representatives each in a Senate, and representation in a House based on population.

In the year 325, another group of delegates had met in the city of Nicaea, in what is now northwestern Turkey. But they met not to decide on the form of a nation, but on the very nature of God, and the relationship between God and Christ Jesus.

Two main camps had arisen by the 300s (Fourth Century.) One was a group that believed that Jesus had existed forever – as long as God had existed – and that he was, in fact, God’s “son” but also God’s equal. This group, led by Athanasius, was powerful in Italy and other western provinces of the Roman Empire.

The other group, led by a bishop named Arius, believed Jesus was a semi-divine, Angel-like Being who was less than God Himself, but greater than a “mere” man. It’s said that most Christians at this time were actually Arians.

The final vote wasn't even close, because the council was "packed" with allies of Athanasius. Of the about 300 delegates there, only two refused to sign the new creed that was developed – a creed still believed and recited by Roman Catholics, and unquestioningly believed by nearly all “Protestant” Christians. Those two delegates, along with Arius and all who believed in his view, were “anathema” or “condemned.” They lost their positions in the church and even their lives.

By the time the year 325 arrived, very little of the original conception of Jesus as a human man remained, due to two centuries of Greek and Roman ex-pagans carrying over their beliefs into Christianity.

The simplicity of the Gospels, and even in the book of Acts and in the writings of Paul of Tarsus, state clearly and without confusion that: Jesus was fully human being, fully subordinate to God, but called and “Begotten” and Adopted by God at his baptism as his Son, where he was Anointed (christos) to preach "Good News" (a Good and Beneficial Message – "Godspell/Gospel” in Old English idiom.)

Thus, Jesus was fully, 100% human, like us, and this human being’s morally excellent life leads us to believe that we, too, may achieve what he achieved – union with God the spiritual sense – and of course, Jesus himself commands this very thing, and says we may be forgiven by an all-merciful God when we fall short of this amazingly high goal.

Compare this simple belief, which was held by and preached by the earliest of Jesus’ followers, with the definition decided at Nicea, that Jesus was, “born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

Thus Jesus became the Christ-Being who always lived in Heaven with God forever, who was "consubstantial" (of the exact same “substance” or Being – in other words, in all ways EQUAL to God – 100% God but also 100% man) and become a man when he magically entered into Mary’s womb, when he was already the Savior of the world from his first breath.

But by this definition, Jesus is no longer a man, chosen by God, but some kind of alien being, whom we must pretend was fully human, but, being all-knowing and all-seeing like God, cannot possibly be human like us. We are told that Jesus is a Son, but a Son equal in age with his Father, and sharing a mind with Him. Does this make any sense?

Sixty years later, another group of men came together to determine that the Holy Spirit was part of God, but also a separate BEING from Him. This made three Beings in this Godhead, each equal, each separate. Confused yet? Most are. And we are told by Catholics and "Catholic" Protestants who believe this, that it's simply a "mystery" we must accept. What's a mystery is why we continue to accept this false and ridiculous nonsense at all.

The proof is all over the New Testament that this doctrine of the Trinity was utterly unknown to both Jesus and the Apostles who knew him, who, while believing in the divinity of his mission and in the divinity of his doctrines, did not and COULD not (as Jews) believe a human being was equal to God. Jesus always says he is completely subordinate to and dependent on, God (though Trinitarians may speculate that he "chose" to pretend to be subordinate, this is wild speculation.)

Jesus is in no way diminished by seeing him as fully and completely human. We are commanded to be like him, obey him, and serve God in his name. We cannot do this is Jesus is a half-God/half-man Being. And if Jesus pretended to be fully human, while commanding us to obey him in all things (knowing this was impossible – and this is the teaching of some Christians today) then we must reject him as a liar and a fraud. Luckily for us, we need not do this, because Jesus was very clear about his mission and Nature.

Below are listed just a VERY FEW examples of what is ACTUALLY in the New Testament. Please know that scholars and most ministers have known that Jesus is subordinate for over 200 years, but pastors have not shared this knowledge with their congregations, or have explained them away.

Read these verses. Pray about them. And perhaps, for the first time, knowing what you know about this doctrine’s origins, you’ll see that Jesus was not God, but the one sent to us by God.

1. Jesus said he was utterly dependent upon God. After being accused of being God by some of the Jewish religious leaders, he does not confirm what they said, but instead says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” and “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 5:19;30)
2. Jesus says, "Why do you call me ‘good’? There’s only one that is good, God” (Matt. 19:17) Here is a clear, plain denial of his equality with God.
3. Jesus says, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” (John 7:16)
4. Jesus, praying, says, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, AND Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
5. Jesus said, “I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) God is not equal to the Son, says the Son.
6. Jesus was baptized and “anointed by God.” Jesus cannot be the same one being anointed and doing the anointing.
7. Jesus "increased in wisdom, and in favor with God and man," (Luke 2:52) God does not “increase in wisdom,” He is already perfectly wise.
8. “I am ascending to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) Jesus has a God. Jesus himself is not God, by his own admission.
9. Jesus says (John 10:30) “I and the Father are one” which is used by Trinitarians to show that Jesus is equal to God. But Jesus later (John 17:20-21), while in prayer to his God (again, he did not pray to himself) Jesus says, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their message; that THEY MAY BE AS ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they ALSO MAY BE IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unless we, too, are equal to God in Nature, this simply speaks of Spiritual unity with God, which surely Jesus had, perfectly.
10. Jesus never prayed to the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) nor did he pray to himself, or tell others to pray to anyone other than God, his and our Father. He never said that the spirit of God was a separate being to whom we should pray.
11. Jesus often prayed to God, in a way that showed he was NOT praying to himself. (Mark 1:35; Matt. 14:23;14:39; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 23:34; John 17:1; Hebrews 5:7)
12. Jesus seeks to honor only God, not himself, “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honors me” (John 8:54; also John 8:49-50)
13. About the End of the Jewish Age, Jesus says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36) God is all-knowing, and we are told He knows the date. If the Son is ignorant of the date, he is not equal to God.
14. 1 Timothy 3:5 records that there’s “one mediator between God and men, the MAN, Christ Jesus.” Can someone be the mediator between two parties if he’s one of the parties?
15. 1 John 4:14 notes that “the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Can the sent be the same as the sender?
16. Paul declares that “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.” Christ is our Lord, God is Christ Jesus’ Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Jesus is our Master, but God is Jesus’ Master.
17. Paul repeatedly praises “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1:17) and it appears in 1 Peter 1:3 as well. Jesus has a God.
18. "It is written in the Law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one who bears witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.” (John 8:17) This is TWO beings, not one, bearing witness. Otherwise Jesus here is speaking nonsense.
19. Acts calls Jesus a MAN, and apart from God: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A MAN attested to you BY GOD.” (Acts 2:22)
20. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is shown saying “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Jesus overcame, just as we are to overcome – as human beings.
21. Jesus said, from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) It’s incomprehensible to assume this was said by the Almighty, All-Seeing Creator of the Universe.

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