#532

June 25, 2017

Jesus’ God

Hi, I'm a Muslim. I've one question about Jesus.

When you call someone/believe in someone as (your God), you imply something by that (i.e. there’re necessary consequences of that belief theologically).

For example, when you call Jesus (my God), that means rather it has to mean that you believe in your heart that Jesus has created you. That meaning is already in your mind & heart. It must be!

Based on that, I want to ask you when Jesus himself called the Father as (his God), what does that have to mean/imply?

If the Father has created Jesus, then that does make sense. However, Jesus was not created according to Christians, so I'm asking why Jesus addressed the father by this label (my God)? Has the Father Created Jesus? If not, why did Jesus believed in the father as his God.

Thank you.

Abdullah

Azerbaijan

A former Muslim (now Christian) friend once remarked to me, “Muslim evangelism is a crash course in Christian doctrine.” Your question, Abdullah, so well illustrates that remark. You have opened the door to discussion of some very profound doctrines about God and Christ.

To begin with, you are quite right in inferring that if any human being regards someone as God, he must also regard that person as his Creator, since God is the Creator of all that exists apart from Himself. Since Christians regard Jesus as God, they also explicitly acknowledge him as the Creator (see Gospel of John 1.1-3; Colossians 1.15-17; Hebrews 1.1-3).

So what is implied when Jesus refers to his Heavenly Father as God? The answer to that question takes us into the doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ.

First, with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity, Christians have distinguished between the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity. (I’m sorry if this appears complex, but you asked!) The ontological Trinity has to do with God as He exists in Himself wholly apart from His relations to the world. The ontological Trinity comprises three persons, whom we call the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now the question is: are there relations of derivation among the persons of the ontological Trinity? Traditionally, the Christian church has affirmed that there are. Specifically, it has held that the second person of the Trinity eternally derives from the first person, much as light proceeds from the sun. That is why the first person is called the Father and the second person the Son, since the first person begets the second. Now begetting is not the same as creating. When a cat begets kittens, it brings forth offspring that share its same feline nature. By contrast, when an animal creates something (like a bird’s nest or a beaver’s dam), it produces an artifact having a different nature than its own. So the Son, sharing the same nature as the Father, is rightly said to have been begotten by the Father, not created by Him. So Jesus Christ, as a divine person, regards the first person of the Trinity as his Father, not his Creator.

Not all Christians hold to the view that there are relations of derivation within the ontological Trinity. I myself am sceptical of this view because it has no Scriptural warrant. Rather I tend to think of the denomination of the three self-standing persons of the ontological Trinity as “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” as belonging properly to the economic Trinity. That is to say, these names are descriptive of the respective roles the three persons play in the plan of salvation. Jesus Christ, though equal in nature to the first person of the Trinity, submits to him and becomes incarnate for the sake of our salvation and so is called the Son in relation to the Father. Christ is the Son of the Father, not in his divine nature, as on the traditional view, but in his human nature in virtue of his virginal conception.

So we have two alternative ways of accounting for Jesus’ relation to God as his Father: either (i) because he is eternally begotten by the Father in his divine nature or (ii) because he was miraculously begotten through Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus in his human nature.

That would explain why Jesus thought of God as his Father. But that’s not the whole story. How can Jesus regard the Father as his God? That gets into the doctrine of the two natures of Christ. On the Christian view, Jesus had two natures, human and divine. Having two natures, he was truly human as well as truly divine. When Jesus during his earthly incarnation worships and prays to his Father as God, he does so as a human being. As a divine person, Jesus could not have been created by God, but his individual human nature, that body-soul composite that walked the hills of Galilee and was crucified in Jerusalem, was created by God. So it was entirely appropriate that Christ in his human nature worshipped and served his Heavenly Father as his God, as did other faithful Jews.

I hope this helps to clear up your question. Jesus was not created (even if he was begotten) in his divine nature. But his human nature was created by God. So in his humanity Jesus regarded his Heavenly Father as God.