Wrong and Nothing New
Justin, Martyr
1 June 2016
Every few years the "drive-by" media takes a pot shot at orthodox Christianity by highlighting the work of some so-called Christian theologian who has suddenly discovered that Jesus is not God. The report of this "discovery" implies that the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth was a pious fiction intended to limit human freedom. For if there is a God who becomes incarnate and offers His sinless life for the world in a gruesome death on the cross, then such a God is surely a spoil-sport and an oppressor of human aspirations.
 
This modern "discovery" of the mere humanity of Jesus of Nazareth is risible on the face of it. It is only accepted by those who, through their ignorance of the facts of the matter, are duped into believing that this is some fabulous new discovery. It is a shame that our Christian folk, who are among those who are being duped, do not know the most basic church history; for if they did, they would be able to laugh at these claims and give them the short-shrift they deserve.
 
The claim that Jesus of Nazareth was not fully divine was a claim decisively made already in the early fourth century A.D. when the Christian deacon Arius of Alexandria began to teach that Christ was a mere creature who had come into existence by the creation of God in time. Arius intended to rescue the Godhead from contamination by way of change, through making the claim that Jesus was not fully divine. This was a laudable goal on the part of Arius. God is changeless. If Jesus changes, He cannot be God. The problem here was that Arius ignored the divine revelation that Christ had no beginning according to His divinity, but that according to His humanity He was born in time of the Virgin Mary. He was both changeless God of God and changeable man born of Mary.
 
How is this possible? There is the "how?" question again. God takes care of the "how;" we confess the "what." Here we see Augustine once again responding to the claims of Arius one hundred years later in the early 5th century because a good lie is always being resurrected, just as it still is today. The claim that Jesus is not God is nothing new! That this claim is wrong is also nothing new.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"Those who have said that our Lord Jesus Christ is not God, or not true God, or not with the Father the One and only God, or not truly immortal because He is changeable, are proven wrong by the most plain and unanimous voice of divine testimonies; as, for instance, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' (Jn 1:1). For it is plain that we are to take the Word of God to be the only Son of God, of whom it is afterwards said, 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us' (Jn 1:14), on account of that birth of His incarnation, which was wrought in time of the Virgin. But herein is declared, not only that He is God, but also that He is of the same substance with the Father; because, after saying, 'And the Word was God,' it is said also, 'The same was in the beginning with God: all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made' (Jn 1:2-3).'Not simply 'all things;' but only all things that were made, that is; the whole creation. From which it appears clearly that He Himself was not made, by whom all things were made. And if He was not made, then He is not a creature; but if He is not a creature, then He is of the same substance with the Father. For all substance that is not God is creature; and all that is not creature is God. 
 
"If the Son is not of the same substance with the Father, then He is a substance that was made: and if He is a substance that was made, then all things were not made by Him. But 'all things were made by Him,' therefore He is of one and the same substance with the Father. And so He is not only God, but also true God. And the same John most expressly affirms this in his epistle: 'For we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the true God, and that we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life' (1Jn 5:20)." 

Augustine, On the Trinity, 1.6
1 John 5:13-21

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
 
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life - to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.
 
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
 
We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (ESV)
Prayer
O Christ, You have been revealed to us as the true God and eternal life. Grant that the Holy Spirit would enable us to confess this most basic truth over against the monstrous lies that the father of lies feeds to the unaware. Help us to say that we have a God who is in Christ willing to become incarnate of His virgin mother that he might provide salvation for us. Amen.
 
For Tessa and Jeff Pernoud who were blessed by the gift of a healthy baby boy, Gage Alexander, that they would rejoice in the great gift God has bestowed on them and that mother and child would be kept safe until the day of Gage's baptism into Christ
 
For the people of Memorial Lutheran Church as they continue to support the life of Christ in their midst through participation in the means of grace, that they might share that life with those who are among the dead of this world
 
For lost young people who have drifted into gang life, that they might be converted to Christ and live the life of Christ
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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