A question that has been rattling around my mind for the past couple of days deals with Christ’s divinity. A friend of mine from both my religious studies classes wrote his Early Christianity paper about Paul’s Christology; investigating whether or not Paul regarded Christ as God (second Person in the Trinity) or as an agent of God (one through whom God brought about His kingdom). I forget the details of his argument because I only heard his presentation and haven’t been able to read his paper on it, but I recall it stirring my mind a little. On Friday, I had coffee with my friend and he essentially told me the boat he was in: He has a difficult question to deal with (especially in rooting this back into his faith) and very few people are willing to even hear his questions.
Later on in the afternoon, I watched a video posted on Near Emmaus with NT Wright discussing Christology in terms of John’s Gospel. One thing Wright mentioned was that the “I am” statements of Jesus weren’t necessarily claims to be God, second Person of the Trinity. Instead, they could very well have been Messianic claims.
Trying to figure out the difference between a claim to be the source of divinity as opposed to a source is an interesting investigation. This is the heart of the question I’ve had: Which was Jesus; God or agent of God? And I know that plenty of other theologians and scholars throughout history have taken up the study of Paul’s Christology or Christology in general, so I’ll have several hands full of resources to glean from. But as of right now, I’ve had an interesting idea in mind: Study through the seven authentic Pauline letters (as well as the others, too, though wary that they may not have been penned by Paul) and see what the evidence actually says. (Those seven, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, are Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.)
What I think will be the most challenging thing for me is figuring out how it fits into my faith. All my Christian life I’ve been taught to treat Christ as God and now to even question the possibility might shake my faith. But yet I don’t know; just because Christ may not have been God doesn’t mean He wasn’t the Messiah proclaimed about in the Prophetic books. It will simply challenge my 21st century, indoctrinated way of thinking about Jesus, God, and the Bible. These doctrines have, thus far, been foundational to the way I’ve approached Scripture and God; but does that mean I have been correct in doing so? Is it in fact wrong to think of Jesus as God? Or are we actually incidentally right?
There are plenty of questions that could emerge from this study, so I must be careful to keep the central one in focus: Is Jesus the source of the divine or a source of the divine? What my heart leads me to believe may not be what the evidence suggests, so this could be a challenge journey. But it’s one I feel compelled to take. Anyone who is willing to study this idea as well is welcome to comment on the blogs I post or start up posts of their own. For reading I’ve opened up Romans and taken note of all the times Paul seems to make a Christological claim (one that either equate Him to God or defines Him as God’s agent).
Christ taught His early followers to seek things out and to love God with all their minds. I aim to do so with this study and would greatly appreciate anyone else willing to ask these questions and to share answers/opinions along the way (especially anyone from Near Emmaus, which I believe there was at least one person kind of investigating Christology).
To those who might not want to read what I read, but rather what I write, I hope to make these posts informative and inviting. I’d encourage any readers to do readings on their own about these questions, but it’s not a requirement. I just desire an honest investigation.