THE DEITY OF JESUS
Paul E. Kretzmann
The Son of God
There is hardly a page of Scriptures which unbelief, often parading under the name of science and truth, has not touched and soiled with blasphemous hands. But no other doctrine has so challenged the most desperate efforts of unbelievers inside and outside of the Church than that of the person and office of Christ. The question of Jesus: “What think ye of Christ, whose Son is He?” Matthew 22:42, important at all times since the Gospel was first proclaimed, has become a touchstone in our days; for by their answer to this question men range themselves with the friends or with the enemies of the Church of God in the real sense of the term.
The foolish denial of the existence of Jesus
Fortunately it will not be necessary to do more than merely refer to the fact that a few decades ago the very historicity of Jesus was questioned, and that some so-called Bible critics to this day do not hesitate to speak of a mythical theory of Jesus. “They assure us that in the gospels we have not got any ‘tradition of a personality.’ Jesus, the central figure, never existed at all, but was a purely mythical personage.” [Conybeare, The Historical Christ, 15]. We refer to this in the same way that we would register the idea of some mentally deranged person that denied the existence of the sun.
Not a mere teacher
Far more dangerous are such critics that assume a sanctimonious attitude and act as though they were firm believers in the Bible and all its doctrines, while, as a matter of fact, they are undermining the very foundations of Christian belief by their insidious attacks upon Christ, the Savior of the world. It is by such as these that Jesus is represented merely as a leader in social progress, as the “supreme example of genius in the realm of intellect,” whose “wonderful name lifts society upward in character and culture, and will yet lift man back to His Father’s side.” Christ is indeed conceded a position as religious teacher, but one that “portrayed as an Infinite Father that God who holds the earth in His hand and rolls the sun like a golden ball along the pavement of the morning.” Christ is pictured in wonderfully flowing language in His relation to the poet, the philosopher, the scientist, and the seer. [Hillis, The Influence of Christ in Modern Life]. But it does not seem to occur to any one to picture Christ, with equal beauty of language, in His relation to the poor sinner in need of salvation. And, with all their harping on the divinity of Christ, a great many of the modern religious leaders seem to have forgotten that there can be no salvation without the deity of Jesus assured.
Jesus is true God
We believe that Jesus Christ is true God. And, in order to summarize very briefly, let us point to only a few passages of the Bible. Jesus is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, called the Son of God, and not a son by adoption, but one born out of the essence of the Father from eternity. “Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee,” Psalm 2:7; Hebrews 1:5. Mary is given the assurance: “That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” Luke 1:35,32. John expressly states of Jesus: “We saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father,” John 1:14. Jesus Himself does not reject the confession of Nathanael: “Thou art the Son of God,” John 1:50, with horror, but accepts it as a matter of fact. John states it to be the purpose of His entire gospel: “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” John 20:31. St. Paul declares that “God spared not His own Son,” Romans 8:32. And that the argument from the Sonship of Jesus to His Godhead is valid even the unbelieving Jews knew, thus surpassing many a modern critic: “The Jews sought to kill Him because He … said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God,” John 5:18.
Jesus is explicitly called God in the Scriptures
But that is not all. Jesus is expressly and unequivocally called God; deity is actually ascribed to Him. The words of the prolog of our gospel are so unmistakable that only a flat denial can remove them and their power. John writes: “The Word was God,” John 1:1. He does not say that the Word was divine, but that the Word is actual, true, essential God. He says the same thing in his first epistle, when he declares that Jesus is “the true God and eternal life,” 1 John 5:20. And Jesus Himself did not refuse to be honored and addressed as God when Thomas exclaimed: “My Lord and my God,” John 20:28.
The gospel of John
If we confine ourselves to the gospel of John alone, there is so much material to defend the deity of Christ that the sifting alone requires long and careful work. There is the testimony of the evangelist himself, John 1:1-14; John 2:11. There is the testimony of John the Baptist, John 1:15-36; John 3:23-36. Cp. John 1:37; John 10:41-42. There is the testimony of Christ Himself, John 4:25-26; John 10:24-25; John 9:35-37; John 13:13; also John 3:16; John 5:17-18; John 10:30; John 8:19; John 10:38; John 14:7-11; John 5:19; John 14:26. There is the testimony of the Father, John 5:31-32; John 8:17-18; John 12:23,28; John 19:34-35; John 20:12. There is the testimony of the disciples of Jesus, John 1:41,45,49; John 6:67-69; John 11:27; John 20:28; John 21:15-17. There is finally the testimony of the people, John 6:14-15; John 7:31,40-41; John 10:41-42; John 12:12-13; John 4:42. [Syn.-Ber., Canada, 1891, 15-83; Nebr., 1901].