|PDF of article|
Six Facts About Jesus and God
Two Facts from the Entire Bible
FACT #1: There is only one God.
FACT #2: God is uncreated Spirit and cannot be seen.
Two Facts from the Old Testament
FACT #3: God has been seen.
FACT #2 and FACT #3 are apparent opposites. At this point, I must decide between the following three choices:
CHOICE #1: I can accept FACT #2 and reinterpret the verses that support FACT #3.
In this case, I would probably say that those verses listed under FACT #3 were merely claiming that people had "mystical visions" - which they mistakenly thought were God himself, or which merely "represented" him. Or I could claim that those verses were just symbolic in some manner. (Maybe I could claim that they just meant that the people "understood" God!)
CHOICE #2: I can accept FACT #3 and reinterpret the verses that support FACT #2.
In this case, I would probably say that those verses merely say that, even though people can see God, they can't fully comprehend what they see. Or perhaps I could even make God into a "super man (or being)," who we could partially (not fully) understand or "seen." I could even claim that those verses were just symbolic of God's greatness, but weren't to be understood "literally."
CHOICE #3: I can accept both FACT #2 and FACT #3.
In this case, I could argue that the uncreated, invisible, infinite God can manifest himself in a finite manner, so as to be comprehended by humans. Since this manifestation is finite, it cannot fully represent the infinite deity. (There would have to be limitations of various kinds. Otherwise, it would have to be infinite!) Furthermore, this visible expression by God is self-revelation: He chooses when he will reveal himself and how he will do it. [It's not up to people to decide when they want him to appear, or what they want him to look like. Nor do they have the option of choosing or inventing created objects, and designating them as "representations of God."]
* I choose this last alternative. *
FACT #4: Certain verses seem to suggest that God is, in some manner, a "plurality."
FACT #1 and FACT #4 are apparent opposites. At this point I must decide between the following three choices:
I can accept FACT #1 and "re-translate" (or reinterpret) the verses that support FACT #4.
Over all, I would probably treat each verse in FACT #4 as though it were the only one of its kind, and then reply, "The rest of the Bible proves that such an interpretation is wrong." (It is easy to kill the significance of these verses - at least in the minds of some people - IF we do it one verse at a time!) I could also say, "Reason goes against it" - as though finite human reasoning determines the nature of the infinite God! Also, since few people can read the original languages of the Old and New Testaments, I could even "correct" the translation and nobody would know it! [One religious group has tried something like this.]
I can accept FACT #4 and re-do FACT #1 somehow.
I might say that there are many gods, but only one who is like Jehovah. If so, I would explain that when it says none were formed before or after Jehovah, it means that none were formed who were quite like him... but that others who were different were formed. If I believed this idea, I could say that the different gods are "one" in the sense of being "one in purpose," etc. I could also "re-translate" the Bible (as described above), to minimize the impact of any "offending" verse.
I can accept both FACT #1 and FACT #4.
If this is the case, I could argue that there is one and only one "uncreated reality or being" (God), who throughout Scripture is contrasted with all the "created realities" (heaven, earth, and everything in them). This one "being" is in some manner both "unity" and "plurality," co-existing simultaneously.
On the one hand, the Bible's assertion that there is one God would demonstrate both of these facts: 1) there is only one of these uncreated "beings," and 2) this one being is a unity. (Some passages may emphasize the first of these facts; others the second.) On the other hand, the various assertions in FACT #4 would demonstrate the plurality aspect of this "one" being.
If I accept this view, I could argue that a finite manifestation of this deity (such as when he appeared as "the angel of Jehovah") would both: 1) be God, and 2) be with God - and I could say it without contradicting myself. (I would not have to change the definition of "God," in the middle of making these two statements.)
*I BELIEVE THIS LAST ALTERNATIVE does most justice to the evidence. *
However, FACT #3 and FACT #4 are only from the Old Testament, and it would be better to check the New Testament (God's fullest and final revelation for this age) before I reach my final conclusions.
Two Facts from the New Testament
FACT #5: Many verses indicate that Jesus Christ was human... complete with human limitations.
FACT #6: Many verses indicate that Jesus Christ was (is) God/deity. There are both direct and indirect statements.
FACT #5 and FACT #6 are apparent opposites. At this point, I must decide between the following three choices:
I can accept FACT #5 and reject FACT #6.
I will ignore, "re-translate" or explain-away all verses listed under FACT #6, similar to the ways I used to explain-away FACT #3 or FACT #4, above. [Historically, this was done by various Gnostic heresies, Arianism, etc.]
I can accept FACT #6 and reject FACT #5.
I will do the same as with the above choice, but with the opposite group of verses. I will probably interpret FACT #5 as making reference only to an "apparent body" with "apparent (that is, not real) limitations," etc. [Historically, this was done by a theological system called Monarchianism.]
I can accept FACT #5 and FACT #6 as both true.
I might not be able to fully answer the question, "How can they both be true?" But I will note that there is a large amount of evidence supporting each. Moreover, this would tie in beautifully with the acceptance of all FACTS #1 through #4 (which focus on God as seen/unseen and one/plurality): The one invisible God would finitely manifest himself in human flesh - as "the angel of Jehovah" in the Old Testament and as "Jesus Christ" in the New Testament.
As revealed in human form, there would be limitations of various kinds within the bounds of that human flesh. (See, for example, the limitations described under FACT #5.) At the same time, however, this God would still be infinite (etc.). And so, this limited expression of deity would not only "be God," but would also "be with God."
* What I have studied compels me to choose this last view. I can accept none other. *
I can accept all six facts, in their full significance, and without denying, reinterpreting, or changing any of them.
One "Bonus Fact" from the New Testament
FACT #7: Those who belong to God (his children) will someday get to see him.
Dennis Hinks © 1983, 2006