Christian Views on the Divinity of Jesus
The Light (Pakistan), 1st February 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 1–2)
A Christian correspondent from Khanpur takes exception to the article “Is Jesus God?” which appeared in first number of The Light and lays stress on Jesus’ claim to be the son of God.
“The prophets of the Old Testament foretold that God was to be incarnated.… And when Jesus came he claimed that he was the son of God. He said: ‘I and the Father are one.’; ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.’ For this cause therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he called God his own father, making himself equal with God.”
And so on.
Our correspondent is not perhaps aware that the modern mind, even when professing Christianity, is not satisfied by these illusory [based on illusion; not real] arguments. If Jesus said that God was his Father, he also said that God was the Father of all men: “Our Father that art in heaven,” is on the lips of every Christian.
Therefore, God is Jesus’ Father in exactly the same sense as He is the Father of all men. If he spoke of himself as the son of God, he spoke of all men as the sons of God: “That ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven.”
The following cutting from an English newspaper shows how the modern Christian mind revolts against the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus which the Christian missionaries are sent to preach abroad:
“A discussion on ‘Jesus as the Son of God’ at the Modern Churchman’s Congress at Cambridge yesterday inspired a remarkable speech by Dr Rashdall, Dean of Carlisle.
‘There is a growing demand that liberal theologians should say in quite definite terms what they really mean when they use the traditional language about the divinity of Christ,’ said Dean Rashdall.
‘The following are some of the things that we do not, and cannot, mean by ascribing divinity to Christ:
- Jesus did not claim divinity for Himself. He may have allowed Himself to be called Messiah, but never in any critically, well attested sayings. Is there anything which suggests that His conscious relation to God is other than that of a man towards God? The speeches of the fourth Gospel, where they go beyond the synoptic [general summary of; synopsis of] conception, cannot be regarded as history.
- It follows from this admission that Jesus was in the fullest sense a man, and that He had not merely a human body, but a human soul, intellect, and will.
- It is equally unorthodox to suppose that the human soul of Jesus pre-existed. There is simply no basis for such a doctrine unless we say that all human souls exist before their birth into the world, but that is not the usually accepted Catholic position.
- The divinity of Christ does not necessarily imply virgin birth or any other miracle. The virgin birth, if it can be historically proved, would be no demonstration of Christ’s divinity, nor would the disproof of it throw any doubt on that doctrine.
- The divinity of Christ does not imply omniscience [the capacity to know everything]. There is no more reason for supposing that Jesus of Nazareth knew more than His contemporaries about the true scientific explanation of the mental diseases which current belief attributed to diabolic possession than that He knew more about the authorship of the Pentateuch or the Psalms. It is difficult to deny that He entertained some expectations about the future which history has not verified.’
The Rev. H.D.A. Mayor, Principal of Ripon Hall, Oxford, who opened the discussion, was as outspoken as the Dean. ‘It should be clearly realised,’ said Mr Mayor, ‘that Jesus did not claim in the Gospel to be the Son of God in a physical sense, such as the narratives of the virgin birth suggest, nor did he claim to be the Son of God in a metaphysical sense, such as was required by the Nicene theology. He claimed to be God’s son in a moral sense, in the sense in which all human beings are sons of God as standing in a filial [a display of affection as shown by a child] and moral relationship to God and capable of acting on those moral principles on which God acts.’
The Dean of Carlisle, who is recognised as one of the most fearless and outspoken of modern Churchmen and has a distinguished university career. He was a theological tutor at Balliol, and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn for five years. He was Dean of Hereford before his translation [transfer] to Carlisle in 1917.”