"Reconnecting Jesus to God"

Christianity speaks of being a part of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Christianity includes the Hebrew Bible in its scriptures. Christianity claims to be monotheistic, following the lead of Judaism. The words of the great "shema" in Deuteronomy 6, "Yahweh is our God, our only God," these words are absolute in Judaism and accepted as truth by Christianity.

Yet Jews (and Muslims) see clearly that Christianity is not monotheistic and probably never has been. There are and have been two distinct gods in the minds of the vast majority of Christians through the centuries, namely God and Jesus. The early Christians elevated Jesus to god status to make young Christianity viable in the Greco-Roman world. Had they not deified Jesus in that environment, the movement would have died.

However, they eased the pain of Jewish Christians by creating the political "Doctrine of the Trinity," claiming that one was three and three were one. In high philosophical circles, the doctrine of the trinity has been successfully argued. Among the masses of Christians, that dog doesn't hunt. The masses do not understand the Doctrine of the Trinity and therefore do not believe it, though they speak it in their creeds and liturgies.

Out there in the real Christian world, God is the old man (non-sexist language is hardly rampant in Christianity), the patriarch, the leader, the president, the king. He keeps everything under control and runs the business of the world. Jesus is the young man, the vice-president, the heir apparent, the successor, the prince. A logical extrapolation of this idea would be that if God were to die, Jesus would take over and run things. That is the practical meaning of "Son of God." The management of the universe is in the hands of "God & Son."

There are two very distinct visual images of these two gods in the minds of the masses. The most common picture of God is the face of the "Ancient of Days," more or less the same as Charlton Heston's face as the white-haired and white-bearded Moses in "The Ten Commandments." The most common picture of Jesus is the crucifix, Jesus hanging on the cross. Another common picture is the pretty face with Caucasian features.

For many Christians, each of these two gods has his own book. God has the Old Testament. Jesus has the New Testament. Most Christians believe there are references to Jesus in the Old Testament and many references to God in the New Testament. A few Christian sect groups reject the Old Testament completely and deal only with the New Testament, acknowledging Jesus as their only god.

The matter of the humanity and/or divinity of Jesus has been the sticking point from the beginning. Let us seek to break the logjam with new categories and concepts.

God is the one god. God is one god. There is no god other than God. God has manifested (revealed) God to humankind in many forms. In one form, God is manifested as the creator of the universe. In another form, God is manifested as the wisdom of the spheres. In another form, God is manifested as the life force of all living things. In the form of Jesus, God is manifested as a human being, a Palestinian rabbi. This manifestation has a beginning and end in real human time and history, but has eternal significance.

This manifestation is seen most graphically in the picture of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The essence of this manifestation is the spiritual death and spiritual resurrection of Jesus, which is highlighted by the physical events. Everything else in the story of Jesus is prelude and postlude, wonderful but not essential.

The manifestation of God in Jesus is the most useful manifestation available to the human race, and all manifestations are useful. God in Jesus shows us a picture of life lived in the Kingdom of Heaven. One of the most exciting pieces in the story is the vision of Jesus' acceptance of the great intangible gifts of God in full measure, a feat of unparalleled faithfulness and stewardship. There is very practical help here. Most importantly, there is, in the picture of Jesus' crucifixion, the sight of the universal human experience of spiritual despair and death. In the picture of his resurrection, there is the vision of the universal hope of spiritual life.

Jesus does not stand apart from God, but stands for God. He is the angel (messenger) of God. He is the prophet of God. He is the Word of God. Therefore, to say that "he sitteth on the right hand of the Father" gives a false image. Jesus is not a "stand alone" (nor "sit alone") god.

When the manifestation of God in Jesus was finished, it was finished. There have been other historical manifestations since then, notably the manifestation of God as power and energy (Holy Spirit). Let us hope that there are continuing manifestations of God in our own time. Surely there are. Meanwhile, as always, there is only one God.

For further information, contact Dr. Ray Dykes, 405-728-2844 or e-mail.