Keeping within the limits of the truth as to the Person of Christ.

            There are a number of well known views as to the Person of Christ. These, such as Arianism, understate what Scripture says as to Him whereas others, such as Trinitarianism, overstate what Scripture says as to Him. The generally known views are as follows;-

First of all, there is the view that He is just a good man and a great religious teacher. Certainly He went about doing good (Acts 10:38) and He was a teacher (John 13:13). Further, he was superior in these things to the other great religious teachers such as Buddha and Mohammed and many would doubtless recognise this who perhaps would not describe themselves as Christians. However, what one has said, though supported by Scripture as indicated above, is only part of the truth, for Christ is the Son of God and had come down from heaven. This is the divine side of his person and must not be overlooked.

            Then as to the view that Christ was the archangel or some other created being (Arianism), it must be acknowledged that Christ was a person distinct from God his Father. If this were not so He could not have made atonement, for He had to offer Himself to God (Hebrews 9:14). To do this He had to be personally distinct from God. This he is, being his Son, in a similar way to oneself, that is, I am personally distinct from my natural father. However again, this is not the whole truth for Christ as to his essential person was not a created being but had always subsisted in the form of God before He became flesh (Philippians 2:6). He was there in the beginning (John 1:1), so that He never Himself had a beginning, but he had an eternal existence. Had He been just a creature He would not have been great enough to have made atonement, that is, He would not have had infinite value.

            Further, we have the view that Christ was simply a mode of God, that is, he was not a person distinct from God his Father (Sabellianism). This is true in a certain sense, that is, He represented in his person God Himself – He was his image (2 Corinthians 4:4) and He expressed God in a full way (Hebrews 1:3). He had his nature absolutely (John 1:1). John in his first epistle switches from God to Christ as if he were talking about the same person (1 John 3:1-3). So far this is true, for Christ said I am in the Father and the Father is in me (John 14:10). However, this is not the whole truth, for Christ clearly in Scripture spoke of his Father as someone distinct from Himself (e.g. John 20:17).

            Lastly we have Trinitarianism, the thought that God is a triumvirate of three identical persons, each one being 100% God, or to put it another way, each person: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are jointly and severally God. This scheme was a reaction against Arianism and is not in accord with Scripture, because in Scripture each Person has his own distinction; in Matthew 28:19 as to name and in Luke 9:26 as to glory. Some have tried to overcome this problem by speaking of the relationships of the persons to one another as being an arrangement called the ‘Economy of Grace’; at the same time holding that they are three co-equal persons. This effectively makes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit simply act parts and undermines the reality of statements of Scripture about them (e.g. John 10:29 & 14:28; 1 Corinthians 11:3). It effectively denies that Christ is a person distinct from God and consequently undermines the validity of the atonement. However, if it is accepted that Christ is personally distinct from God as I am personally distinct from Adam the difficulty largely disappears so long as we maintain that Christ has the nature of God absolutely (John 1:1) as I have the nature of Adam, though I am not Adam personally (1 Corinthians 15:49).

            The above brief comments require serious consideration and not summarily dismissed.

 

November 2013


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