Q: Did Jesus claim to be divine?
Answer: I have addressed some aspects of this question in a previous column, but I would like to remind readers and add a few points. It is true that individuals can find passages to prove Jesus’ divinity and others can find the passages in which Jesus subordinates himself to his father. I will start with the passage in John 14:10-11. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” This passage can easily be interpreted as the Father and Son are one, but then Jesus says that he does not speak on his own authority. He could be saying he is subordinate to God. He could also mean that they are one in spirit or one in purpose. Again in John 6:38, Jesus subordinates himself. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” The wording suggests that one has more power than the other. Whatever the answer might be in this human discussion, there is a divine power.
For centuries, the church debated the true nature of Christ. In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea decided and professed its faith that Jesus was of the same substance as the father, therefore, he was truly and fully divine. This proclamation became the Christian Orthodox position. This is one of the unique elements of Christianity. Other religions do not claim that their God came in human form.
Freedom to decide
On Thursday, most Americans celebrated Independence Day. The day should remind everyone of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Often people with power misuse or abuse their roles in our democracy. As a nation committed to freedom, America must uphold the laws. Equity and justice are core requirements. When governmental powers fall short, citizens need to stand up and keep their democracy working for all people.
After contemplating the opportunities offered in a democracy, we should recognize that we have the right to worship freely. Most religions offer ways to avoid harmful actions, and they encourage extending a helping hand.
Christians should be grateful for the freedom provided by Jesus’ sacrifice as recorded in John 8:34-35. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Every day after Independence Day, Americans should shoulder the responsibilities of being free and work for the freedom of others. People of faith should rejoice in the freedoms offered by their beliefs.
Presently, I am struggling with two topics. First, after much soul searching, I oppose the death penalty. This belief is troubling since I have strong feelings for the person who is murdered and the loved ones who suffer the loss. As a human I could support severe punishment, but as a Christian, I cannot justify my support for taking another life.
Second, I believe in the intention of the Constitution that Church and State should be separate, which would afford the freedom of religious choice and no state-sanctioned religion. I also know that people will bring their values to the political arena. In the past, I have said immigration is a complicated issue to be solved by legislation. Now, I strongly say for the sake of human decency and religious commitments take care of the human crisis at the border of this nation of immigrants. America has been trying to correct the dark chapters of the past. As we continue to try to be a better country, we should not let this human crisis at the border become another dark chapter. Send me an email with views on these two topics, and I will address the issues presented either by email or in a later column.