Wednesday, July 21, 2010

John 1:1 and my "crisis of conscience" about my Arian view of Jesus Christ

I am going to readily articulate a blog disclaimer here..I am in no way certain at this point of either an Arian OR a Socinian view of Jesus Christ.I could argue convincingly,while actually BEING convinced,either view.I see both sides so clearly and hence am in a dilemma.It all started when I began seriously contemplating if Jesus was currently an angel or a man or back and forth or what.In other words,I had a "crisis of conscience" with my tradition,as I recognized for the first time I had a split personalitied Christ like the trinitarians.. I always knew Jesus was UTTERLY perfectly HUMAN,like the first Adam,while he walked this earth,with no further natures on top of his flawless humanity.But because of my question about who Jesus is NOW though, I decided to consider the view of those who don't think he preexisted to find out if there is something I might have missed because previously,I thought their arguments were special pleading with explicit texts.I have since discovered that isn't really the case.Though I still have questions a'many,because of my big mouth and my journey here,I have decided to share my ponderings with whoever stumbles upon this.Any advice,thoughts,or questions would be appreciated.Thanks to all.This is only the very first part of my journey into this and there will be more I will write about John 1:1 and far beyond,so stay tuned and let me know if you've ever seen both sides to an issue so clearly that your head spun in confusion?;)..This blog is written almost as if I'm CERTAIN Christ didn't preexist.That isn't the case but I am writing as a Socinian would here to explore this view and to see if it registers with my reason as I write about and research it.Let me know what you think.Especially if you're a unitarian of any kind.My email is love to hear from any of you on this issue!

The Word of God is NOT *just* Jesus Christ.The reason Jesus is called the Word of God,in my opinion,is for multiple poignant and important reasons:

*His words were not his own,but rather God's,so he relayed God's messages and love to mankind fully and beautifully as God's prophet,agent,image,and representative,who again,said nothing of his own initiative but in all things looked to his own God and father for what to do and say.

*He fulfilled all God's plans and intentions from the beginning,including what was prophecied at Genesis 3:15.Therefore,God's "word",or what would come to pass for the light and life of all mankind,was fulfilled perfectly and fully in Jesus the Christ of Yah,the Son of the Most High God.God's *Word* ,here,would be representative of God's will and plans for a coming savior who would make all God's purposes possible and of comforting absolute surety due to Jesus's faithfulness,obedience,and diligence to his father's *word*,or will.Hence Christ encompasses God's *word* on every level as the Great Amen who ensured God's prophecies by his faithful life,fleeting death,and glorious resurrection.

You'll notice throughout the OT when the word of God is spoken of,it is about what God wills or says by his spirit.I used to read into those texts my personal theology that a preexistent Jesus was probably speaking on God's behalf as his "word" and hence "the word of God" "says."But does that have to be the case?I don't think so anymore.God making everything by his "word" would rather now seem to suggest to me that what God *spoke* came to be.It came to be by his will or speech,(his word) and then by his spirit which works in accord with his will and word and essentially becomes an unstoppable divine force and presence that God uses to create,inhabit chosen servants,and anything else at all that God wills (He may accomplish by his spirit either directly or through others.)This is very much like God's "Wisdom" being personified so vibrantly and often.God's "wisdom" also doesn't always have to be Christ,who once again demonstrated God's wisdom more fully than any other in that God inhabited Christ reconciling a world unto Himself and by living such an admirable and wise life,thereby being so termed "The Wisdom of God."Also,he reveals God's wisdom in his father's plans of salvation and redemption by his fulfillment of those as he finished all the work that needed to be done to ensure a restoration of all things unto glory.God's wisdom,however,can encompass more than Christ of course and,like God's *word* and God's *spirit*, is ofttimes personified and spoken of as a separate entity from God himself in that BECAUSE they ARE all God's attributes,their magnificence inspires poetic license.Just like our attributes and our "spirit" would even as mere human beings.We're talking about God here!

All this thinking made me reconsider the "Socinian" (those who do not believe Christ preexisted) view of John 1:1.Greg Deuble's book "They never told me THIS in Church" is a great one.Let me quote what he says concerning John 1:1 on page 187:

"John DID NOT write "In the beginning was the Son and the Son was with God and the Son was God."(Some translations make this bold claim even though it is totally unwarranted from the text.)But our inherited tradition automatically makes our eyes run in that groove.One of the reasons we tend to read into this meaning is the very fact that our translations have a capital "W" for "Word."The capital W subconsciously dictates what we think John means when he speaks of the "Word."

Interesting indeed that most of the English translations prior to the King James of 1611 identifies the "word" in John 1:1 and beyond as an "it" and not a "who,"proclaiming that God made all things by "it" and not by "him."This makes some sense to me given that what God *spoke* by his "word" came to be(created.)These are perfectly acceptable translations that should at the very least be considered by truth seekers.After all,when "logos" is use in scripture,it isn't generally called a "him" but rather is clearly an "it."As Greg also points out in his book on page 189,the Gnostics were promoting that Jesus was a preexistent heavenly being,a mixture of flesh and spirit,rather than JUST a human.Therefore,John here could have very well been refuting their notions by emphasizing that the "Word" was poetically wrapped up with who GOD was and was not a SEPARATE person by his side,but rather his will and plan and purpose fulfilled by his spirit,that also BECOMES "flesh" in verse 14 when Jesus is born of a virgin womb by the spirit of God.What God has willed,wrapped up in what he purposes and speaks,becomes the Last Adam fulfilling all things,from the fatal blow to Satan to the positive promise of an eternal heavenly kingdom with Messiah as Lord and king by the will and purpose of God.More evidence that John was here refuting the Gnostics and not saying Jesus was an eternal deity always with God in heaven:

1 John 4:2 every inspired expression that confesses Jesus Christ as having come in the FLESH originates with God

Could John here have been repudiating as antichrist ANY confession that goes beyond Christ having come as the Last Adam,a fully flesh man born by the power of God's spirit through a virgin womb?In other words,any confession that Christ was ALSO "fully something else" or ANYTHING else on top of or instead of flesh?Worth at least a consideration!

Examine also:

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

To quote Deuble(p. 189):"Four times John says that which was from the beginning was a "what"!Here the relative pronouns are neuter and not masculine.And to avoid all confusion as to his meaning he even says it was the "word of life" which was in the beginning with God."

So was the "word of life" which correlates with the "word" of John 1:1 Jesus Christ in a preexistent state OR was it God's spoken will and purpose,plan and word,that BECAME Jesus in the flesh through a human genealogy?With discernment,I would say the latter.Discerning here that John identified it as a "what" and not a "who" or a "him" and also that the bible speaks of Christ as having been concealed within God from the beginning and not revealed till he came in the flesh.God purposed his birth for the redemption and salvation of mankind and so it came to be.What God *spoke" by his *word of life* was fulfilled in the Christ.Amen to that!Hebrews 1:2 says in the LAST days he spoke to us through his Son,so logic would dictate not before.

Colossians 1:25:I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

The *word of God* here fully known was a *mystery hidden for ages*.Was this *mystery* a preexistent Christ waiting to reveal himself in the flesh OR God's purpose to bring about a savior that THEN later came to exist and so was able to redeem us according to God's wisdom,words,plans,and purpose?

1 Corinthians 2:6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

So here in Corinthians Paul says the *wisdom*(which also became Christ in the flesh for our redemption!) was DECREED.Implying it wasn't "always existing" but rather "would come to pass."Meaning it was always God's plan and purpose for Jesus to fulfill all things for his glory,for the Lord's glory,and for our eventual glory as the free and imperishable sons of God,in the pattern of his firstborn and chief and unique one who was our forerunner and redeemer,the one who guaranteed God's plans by his inspiring and heartfelt obedience and gifted exaltation.

1 Corinthians 1:30: And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

This text says Jesus BECAME to us wisdom from God and doesn't in any way communicate Jesus was ALWAYS
alive to be wisdom from God.This makes sense because he was DECREED,as God made evident in what he said in Genesis 3:15,the first Messianic prophecy.

To quote Karen Armstrong,who Greg quotes in his book(from A History of God:From Abraham to the present:the 4000 year quest for God,p.106)"The "memra"(word) performs the same function as other technical terms like "glory,""Holy spirit",and "Shekinah" which emphasized the distinction between God's presence in the world and the incomprehensible reality of God Himself.Like the divine Wisdom,the "Word" symbolized God's original plan for creation.When Paul and John speak about Jesus as though he had some kind of preexistent life,they were not suggesting he was a second divine "person" in the later trinitarian sense.They were indicating that Jesus transcended temporal and individual modes of existence.Because the "power and "wisdom" he REPRESENTED(emphasis mine) were activities that derived from God,he had in some way expressed "what was there from the beginning."These ideas were comprehensible in a strictly Jewish context,though later Christians with a Greek background would interpret them differently."

So the "word of life" that was in the beginning with God didn't become manifest till the latter times when Christ fulfilled it and became flesh to dwell with and die for us.My theory is that God foreknew how man would abuse his free will and how man could never learn exactly how disobedience to him would be to humankind's utmost detriment without actually experiencing the inevitable consequences of such ignorant rebellion! He in his wisdom planned for us to suffer now a world not theocratically divinely ruled in justice so that we MAY learn and appreciate his kingdom when it DOES come.Never will we have an excuse to willfully disobey again.Never will we wonder what a world would be like without God in ultimate control,but rather rebellious creatures working outside his will.We know now and God is good to have educated us!How else would we have known?God also knew how easy it would be for man to misuse and abuse the awesome gift of free will and so what has happened,with Adam and Eve doing so and subsequent humanity under their curse via inheritance,was what would NATURALLY occur.Due to God's grace,wisdom,and mercy,we can be redeemed from the curse but must NOW LEARN that to live in a peaceful God-ruled kingdom requires our willful obedience to the one who clearly knows what is best for us because he created us and knows all things.To willfully,after having learned all we know now with the world's downfall because God allows men and fallen angels to have temporary control of world affairs,disobey and rebel against our loving and all knowing life giver would be inexcusable,ignorant,and death dealing.How could we live in his upcoming perfect, peaceful, blissful,& flawless kingdom if we don't love or obey him?Hence some HAVE to be destroyed but only those who don't free-willfully love and obey God.My purpose in mentioning these things is to tie in to the reader how, because of God's foreknowledge of all this, that he purposed & planned,via his spirit,will,wisdom and word to bring about a means of redemption which became Christ in the flesh for ultimate salvation.God has scales of perfect justice so if one perfect man(God's first human son) could bring about death for every man by one act of disobedience then another perfect man(The Last Adam,the Son of the living God) could bring about the salvation of every man of faith by his own obedience.It's a beautiful thing indeed!The redeeming blood of the perfect and holy Lamb of God accomplishes for us what God's will purposed.God's "word of life" ,that spoken of in John 1 and 1 John 1 was God's divine wisdom,plan and purpose(and hence was poetically described in John 1:1 as being divine or wrapped up with God Himself) was fulfilled when Christ became flesh.(John 1:14)

Many commentators recognize that John ch. 1 is in a poetic style as opposed to a literary one.To quote Deuble:"(Early Church father)Origen's commentary on John states:"logos-only in the sense of the utterance of the father which came to expression in a Son when Jesus was conceived."Similarly Tertullian:"It is the simple use of our people to say (of John 1) that the word of REVELATION(emphasis mine) was with God."(p. 191 in Deuble's book from Ad Praxeus 5)

But was God's revelation of Christ a revelation of Christ as the second person of his being or a preexistent archangel OR as the one who via his spirit and a virgin womb came to be flesh to dwell among us as savior of the world in latter times(who wasn't ever born before he was born as a perfect man)?

From where they have generous excerpts from their book "One God & One Lord: Reconsidering the Cornerstone of the Christian Faith"

The site says"Logos is the term that God uses to represent His purpose for this new creation, which was eventually realized in the person of Jesus."It also quotes from Anthony F. Buzzard and Charles F. Hunting from their book "The Doctrine of The Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound":

"What was it that became flesh in John 1:14? Was it a pre-existing person? Or was it the self-expressive activity of God, the Father, His eternal plan? A plan may take flesh, for example, when the design in the architect’s mind finally takes shape as a house. What pre-existed the visible bricks and mortar was the intention in the mind of the architect. Thus, it is quite in order to read John 1:1-3a: “In the beginning was the creative purpose of God. It was with God and was fully expressive of God [just as wisdom was with God before creation]. All things came into being through it.” This rendering suits the Old Testament use of “word” admirably: “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”(Isaiah 55:11)"

"The true background to John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The “Word of God” in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."scholar F.F.Bruce, op. cit., John, p. 29.

There will be more to come.

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