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Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 16

Divinity of Christ

The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Divinity of Christ

I. DIVINE NATURE

A. Biblical evidence

1. Isaiah 7:14-15; 9:6

2. John 1:1-4, 14, 18; 3:31-32; 10:30; 8:58

3. Paul's writings

4. The Son created and supports all things

B. Early heresies

1. Ebionism

2. Adoptionism

3. Arianism

C. John Wesley

1. Jesus is both human and divine

2. Only begotten Son of God, and the Word of God

3. The Son created and supports all things

4. The Son of God is the redeemer of humanity

II. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


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  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins

Wesleyan Theology I

th510-16

Divinity of Christ

Lesson Transcript

 

Yes, we've been on a journey and we have already explored so many different topics the doctrine of God, the doctrine of humanity and humans, sin and grace. And so when we think about the predicament of humanity, especially in terms of the sin problem, alienation from a God of holy love, then we have to think about the Redeemer. And so the Doctrine of Christ or Christology follows quite suitably as as the next theme. And so we're going to be talking about the person of Christ, the God of Holy Love revealed as that just said. And of course, Christology is is usually broken up. Thinking of the broader categories here in terms of the person of Christ on the one hand, and then the work of Christ on the other. And we will take that approach, of course, as well. And so we are going to begin with the person of Christ. And when we think of the person of Christ, we have to think of both the divine nature and the human nature. And so we are going to start out with an exploration and a description even of the divine nature of Christ. And our approach is always going to be first, let's look at the biblical evidence. Let's look at the evidence from Scripture, from revelation, which is a source of knowledge for us. And then secondly, we will look at church tradition in this case, in the area of Christology, will be taking a look at some of the judgments of the church fathers, some of the judgments of the church fathers with respect to understanding Jesus Christ. Aright. So first, the divine nature of biblical evidence. We start out, interestingly enough, with an Old Testament passage, Isaiah Chapter seven, verses 14 through 15.

 

And I'm going to read this. Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and we'll call him Emmanuel. And of course, Emmanuel, meaning God with us. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. And we also should consider, of course, another excerpt, another passage from Isaiah, which is Christological is significant. Isaiah chapter nine, verse six four. To us, a child is born to us, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called the wonderful counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Every time I recite that passage from Isaiah, I cannot help but think of Handel's Messiah, and I hear the music going on in the background, and I'm sure you have that experience as well. What's important to see, especially in terms of the divine nature, when we look at the New Testament evidence and obviously the New Testament evidence is going to be very, very strong. One of my favorite passages on this topic is actually the Johannine Prolog, the very beginning, very beginning of the Gospel of John, which states John Chapter one verses one through four. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made without him. Not anything was made that was made in him was life. And that life was the life of all mankind. Okay. Now, a scholar, Gary Birge, has actually focused on this particular passage because it is so important in terms of Christology. And he's actually broken it down in a number of strokes or stanzas, which is quite, quite interesting.

 

And so, for example, in terms of the first two verses of this Johannine material in chapter one, he he puts it this way in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God, and then He separates that from the next stroke, which would be verses three and five. All things came into being through him. Now that's rather interesting. We talked about that earlier when we were considering God as Creator, and we indicated even then that God created through Christ and for Christ that that the universe was created through him and for him. And so we see that. Paul talks about that, but we see that also very clearly in this Johannine material. And so we're seeing a different emphasis in this second stroke or stanza. All things came into being through him, and without him, not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not over comments. And so we're seeing different emphases in terms of the person of Christ represented in the way that Gary Birge is organizing these stanzas, if you will, the third stroke. And he's obviously continuing beyond the verses that we read. He's going on into John chapter one verses nine through 12. The true Light, which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. Does that sound familiar? We've been referring to that repeatedly in the last lecture in terms of one of John Wesley's favorite verses to underscore prevention grace. It was one of his favorite verses to appeal to them again. Continuing here he was in the world and the world came into being through him because we see the connection with creation, and yet the world did not know him.

 

The world did not know him. He came to his own people. Meaning here the Jews came to his own people, and his own people did not accept him, but all who received him and believed on his name. He gave the power. And it is a power to become the children. The children of God. Okay. And then the last the fourth strove breaking out this Johannine material. Seeing different attributes or traits describing Christ. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. And we have seen his glory. The glory as of a fathers only son. Now, this, of course, is very important material because it's essentially describing what we theologically call the incarnation. The word became flesh. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. This is at the heart, of course, as you might imagine, of the Christian faith. When we think of the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, surely the incarnation is one of those. As a matter of fact. If we look at the author of the first letter of John and the material presented therein, if you deny that the word has become flesh, the author there refers to that as the spirit of Antichrist. And so we can see that this is a very important affirmation to the Christian faith that God has come, that God has come. Like Isaiah was writing Emmanuel, God with us, with us among us, God has come. That, of course, is a very important statement at the heart of the Christian faith and one of its principal doctrines. And so I like what Gary Berge has done here. I think it is very helpful way of understanding this important material from the gospel of John.

 

And you see how rich it is in terms of Christology. In terms of Christology. Now, if we look elsewhere at some of the Johannine material, we see further descriptions in terms of who Christ is. And so, for example, if we take a look at the Gospel of John chapter three, verses 31 through 32, the one who comes from above is above all, the one who is from the Earth belongs to the Earth and speaks as one from the Earth. The one who comes from heaven is, above all, he testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. And we see here again in this material from John, this time in the third chapter, again, a reference to the incarnation, the one coming from heaven and coming to the earth, being made flesh coming among us. You'll be surprised. Perhaps, maybe, no. But some of the early heresies of the church that the church had to confront denied this very thing, that the word became flesh, this basic teaching, and they denied the humanity of Christ. Another important verse here in John that we need to be apprized of is in chapter ten and 30. This bespeaks of the divinity of Christ, whereby Christ himself states I and the Father are one I and the Father are one. Okay. And so we see here the divinity of Christ being under scorn, under undergirded. And then if we consider the eternity of the logos made flesh once again referred to by John, but this time in the eighth chapter of his gospel, where Jesus himself is saying, very truly, I tell you, Jesus answered before Abraham was, I am. And that language of I am is the language is. That's back there in the Old Testament.

 

When Moses asked, you know, who shall I who shall I say sent me? So I think you're getting a feel just from this initial material found in the Gospel of John that Jesus Christ is distinct. He is distinct because he's saying such things as before. For Abraham was I am. And, you know, with such statements in place, one thinks of the kinds of estimations of Christ that emerge from time to time. I hear this even today, and I'm sure you do as well. Oh, yeah. Jesus Christ. He was a good man or he was a good prophet. And even C.S. Lewis in his own day, you know, dealt with that kind of issue. People think they're honoring Christ by saying, you know, that he was a good man or a good prophet or a moral leader or something like that. And C.S. Lewis, of course, said that that's really not an option to make that claim in terms of Christ. He the options are he is either who he says he is or he is a lunatic. He is a lunatic precisely because of the kinds of things he is saying before Abraham was. I am, for instance. Okay. That's not the language of a simple prophet. This is the language of someone who existed prior to the incarnation. Okay. And so I think Lewis got that right. It's really not an option for us. We either have to acknowledge the divinity of Christ or we must conclude that he was insane, perhaps out of touch with reality, thinking himself to be what he was not. Okay. Now, beyond the Johannine witness, there is the Pauline witness. And here I lift up an important passage in Philippians. Philippians chapter two, verse six. And referring to Christ, who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God, something to be grasped or something to be used to his own advantage.

 

And so in this Philippians passage, we see Paul affirming that Christ is of the same nature as God. And, you know, a clear affirmation of that, not a similar nature, but the same nature as as God. Okay. And then Paul, of course, like John in the material we just referred to, Paul stresses the role that Christ played in terms of the creation itself. And we've already seen that, for example, in Colossians, Colossians chapter one versus 16 through 17 four. In him, all things were created, things in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him. And for him that could not be said of someone who is simply a prophet or simply a human being, that all things have been created through him and for him, through him, all things were made without him. Nothing was made that has been made. Okay. And then we see material pointing to the divinity of Christ, the divinity of Christ. In terms of Titus Titus chapter two, verse 13, which writes, While we wait for the blessed hope, what is that blessed hope for which we are awaiting the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ Jesus Christ. Okay. Now more evidence could be brought forth from Scripture that would highlight the divinity of Christ. But I think enough has been brought forth to establish that, to establish that quite, quite clearly. And so what I'd like to do now is actually turn to some of the traditional evidence for for Christ, for the divinity of Christ. And we'll start out by actually looking at a few of the early heresies that the church had to confront. In other words, improper reviews, improper estimations of who Christ is, and they are going to be put aside.

 

They're going to be put aside by the church. One thinks of the movement of E being ism. The IB Knights sometimes referred to as the poor ones who looked at Christ and even considered him to be the Messiah. But they rejected his divinity as well as his virgin birth. And so this was a teaching that grew up early on in the first century urbanism, and the church rejected it. It put it aside as an inappropriate teaching in terms of who Christ, who Christ is. And so there are heresies that deny the divinity of Christ. And the first one we've mentioned here is Eben ism. But there is another one that the early church confronted, which is called adoption ism. Adoption ism. And this was taught originally by Theodore Otis of Byzantium, and it's late second century. And then later it was taught by Paul of Samuel Sada into the third century adoption ism. And what adoption ism basically is arguing what it's teaching. And Paul of Samuel Sada will be a good example of this, so I'll use him. He taught that Christ was simply a good man. It was a good man whose being was inter penetrated by the logos at his Baptist. At which point he was considered both divine and a savior. And so what Paul of Sam Osama essentially is arguing is that Jesus Christ was simply a man. But at some point, at some point in this case, at his baptism, he is penetrated by the logos and becomes divine. So prior to that, he was not. But then after that, subsequently from his baptism forward, he is well, this position has been referred to as a dynamic monarchy and as a dynamic monarchy it is. Why is it called dynamic monotheism? Well, monarchy ism in the sense that Paul of Samsara and others were concerned about expressing the unity, the unity of the Godhead.

 

Okay. And so it's monarch in that sense, the unity of the Godhead. And it's called dynamic because it's coming from the Greek word dunamis, which means we can which can be translated energy. And so dynamic monarchy and ism in the sense that Christ is energized at his point of baptism. But you should be aware by now, and I hope you are thinking along these lines, given the discussion we've already had in terms of the doctrine of God. And when we thought about the in communicable attributes of God, you should realize right away the difficulty in terms of what Paul of Samsara is arguing. Because what he's arguing is that Christ at one point is simply a mere man, and Christ becomes divine. Christ becomes divine. There would not be the possibility of becoming divine. When you think about the divine society, when you think about the independence of the divine being whose essence is to exist, one must always be divine, if one is divine. You see the problem right away. You see the problem right away. So there are confusions actually, on a number of levels. In terms of Paul of Sam al-Sadr's thinking, he's treating divinity as if it can simply be an acquired attribute. Okay. He he's thinking of God not as one whose essence is to exist. And therefore, that being implying eternity, immutability, etc., etc.. So there actually are a number of confusions here in the thinking of Paul, Sam or Sodom, or perhaps the greatest challenge to the divinity of Christ that the early church encountered would come in the form of Arianism. And so Arya's was a principal leader in the church. He is a second. Excuse me, a third, fourth century figure. A third and fourth century figure.

 

And he was in conflict with the Bishop Alexander. And basically what areas had argued, he argued that Christ was not Christ was not co eternal with the father. And so Arias makes a sharp distinction between the father and the son. Jesus was more than a mere man, according to areas. But Jesus was less less than God. According to Arias's view, Christ was a creature. There was a time when he was not. There was a time when he was not. And so this is, of course, a great challenge to the church. This is a very low, what we would call a low Christology, arguing essentially that Christ was a creature, not Cory Turner with the Father. And so the church responded to areas who gathered up, by the way, many followers, many followers, many people followed areas in their Christology, this low Christology. And so the church. Met at the first Ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea, which met in 3 to 5, and they wrestled with this Christological problem that had been posed by areas. And it's at this council that the early church fathers work out the language, especially thinking about the nature of Christ, and begin to use the language the Greek or be homo. You see us that Christ is of one substance with the father meaning of the same nature as the Father. That is the divine nature. The Latin equivalent here would be con substantial that Christ is con substantial with the Father. Meaning of exactly the same nature. The same nature. And so this first ecumenical Council at Nicaea is affirming the divinity of Christ that has been challenged by areas in considering Christ basically a creature a time. And there was a time when he was not. And we also know that the subsequent the next council, the Council of Constantinople in 381, reaffirmed the judgments made at Nicaea in terms of Christology and began to consider issues in terms of the Holy Spirit.

 

A creed eventually emerged out of these reflections, in terms of Nicaea and Constantinople, And that comes to us, of course, in the form of the Nicene Creed. And you are familiar with that language, God from God, light from light, true God from true God begotten not made of one substance of one substance. You see us with the Father. And so there we see the teaching of the ancient ecumenical church, articulating a doctrine that underscores the divinity of Christ in the face of the challenge that it had received from from Arius, from areas. Okay. Now, John Wesley also thought about Christology in terms of, you know, the proper understanding of one person and two natures. And in thinking of the natures, thinking of both the divine nature and the human nature. And so very much in accordance with the early tradition of the church, Wesley affirmed that the one person of Jesus Christ exists in two natures the divine on the one hand, and the human on the other. And as Wesley elaborated on the divine nature, he did that in several places in his writings. Wesley echoes the exact language of the early ecumenical councils that is Nicaea and Constantinople in particular. So, for example, if we take a look at Wesley's sermon, Spiritual Worship, which was drafted late in his career, he points out that the inspired writers of the New Testament gave Christ all the titles and all the attributes of the most high God eternity among them. And so Wesley sees this particular attribute of trait or trait, the eternity of the divine being as also pertaining to Christ as well. And with that affirmation, since the Psalm, according to Wesley, is eternal, as the Father is eternal, then Jesus Christ is therefore truly and fully God.

 

And so the manner of argument, argumentation here for Wesley is that since Christ evidences this divine trait, then Christ is divine. We therefore need not scruple. Wesley declares to pronounce Christ God of God, light of life, very God of very God in glory, equal with the Father in Majesty, Cory Turner. And so he's lifting up the very language of the Nicaea, the Council of Nicaea and Constantinople. And so what we're going to see in Wesley's Christology is that he will continually celebrate the essential equality of Jesus Christ with God. The Father quote, If our Lord were God only by office or investiture, and not in the unity of the divine essence and in all respects equal in Godhead with the Father. Wesley reasons he could not be honored, even as that is, with the same honor that they honored the father. And so Wesley is very clear in his Christology in terms of the affirmation of the divinity of Christ. He is following not only the biblical materials, but church tradition, what the early tradition of the church had stated. What's more, Wesley, being the good Anglican that he was, is going to appeal to Anglican Resources in his affirmation of the divinity of Christ. And so Wesley agreed with the teaching of his own Anglican church, in which the second article of the historic 39 Articles of Religion stated, quote, The son who is the word of the father, the very and eternal God, is of one substance with the father. End of quote. And so in this material, then in affirming that the son is can substantial or of the same substance with the father, Wesley rejects even the slightest hint of subordination as an subordination as a meaning that the son is somewhat less than the father.

 

Somewhat unequal to the father? Indeed. You know, you've heard the language of homo. You see, as you know, in in the fourth century, there were a no means. And people who would argue heretical, I might add that Christ Nature was like the father. Notice the difference. Like the father of similar. But if you argue like the A no means that Christ nature is like or similar to the Father, then it's not the same nature. And you're already running down the path of subordination ism because you are distinguishing the nature of Christ from the nature of the Father. You're saying it's like God the Father, but it's not the same. And so the affirmation here has to be full. It has to be rich of the same substance or the same nature as the father. Now, two of Wesley's favorite ways of affirming the essential equality of Christ with God. The Father were through the titles The Only Begotten Son of God. Wesley uses that often in reference to Christ, the only begotten Son of God. And the Word of God. He uses that. He lifts up that material from Scripture and uses that often in his own writings. And so Wesley explores such language in one of his more prominent Christological treatises. And here I'm thinking of his letter to a Roman Catholic. And once again, his words reverberate. They reverberate with the tones of Nicaea and Constantinople. This is what Wesley writes, quote. I believe he is the proper natural son of God. Very God of very God. And that He is the Lord of all having absolute supreme, universal dominion over all things. End of quote. So Wesley is adding, you know, to the earlier traditional affirmation that Christ has universal dominion over all things.

 

And one would expect that, of course, in terms of the father. Elsewhere in Wesley's New Testament notes as he comments, for example, on Luke chapter 22, verse seven day. Wesley views the inscription, thus Son of God, not simply as a messianic one, but one that also underscores the divinity of Christ in a very clear and forthright way. And this is what he writes. Both these, the Son of God and the Son of Man, were known titles of the Messiah. He observes, the one taken from his divine, the other from his human nature. Okay, Now, in terms of the second designation that Wesley often employed in his writings, that is the Word of God. Wesley discerned a dynamic relation between God, the Father and the Son. That is, the evocative calling speaking power of the most High is evident in Wesley's observation that the son is the word whom the father begat or spoke from eternity. And so it is an eternal speaking. It is an eternal begetting and eternal speaking and eternal begetting. And Wesley is working with this language. With this image. This speaking so conceived then, as I have described, it expresses not a temporal relation, but rather an eternal one. It is indicative of both being and relation. In other words, there never was a time when the father did not beget the son. There never was a time when God did not speak the word. The word. It's an eternal begetting. It's an eternal speaking, if you will. The key thing to see here and and this was well developed by the Cappadocian fathers. The key thing to see here, the distinctiveness of the persons. The father, on the one hand, the son on the other, is principally in terms of relations.

 

The father is the end begotten. The son is the begotten, and eternally so. That's that's Wesley's point here. This is in the Word of God, has been eternally spoken by the Father. Never was a time when the word was not. Okay. You know, that reminds me of, you know, again, the Johannine Prolog in the beginning was the word, the words with God, and the word was God. I know the Jehovah Witnesses. They take that verse and they misunderstand the Greek because they argue the fact that the word was a God in their new world. Translation they write the word. The word was a God because the Greek is an authoress. In other words, without the article, without the definite article. Well, for those who know Greek, you realize readily that this is a confusion on the part of the Jehovah Witnesses. Something can be and offer us. And the intent here is to stress that Christ was divine. That's that's very clear from looking at the text. Okay. And so this relation between the father and the son, which Wesley is working with so clearly is an eternal relation. It's an eternal relation. And they are of the same nature. The same nature. Okay. Though God, the father begets the son and declares the word. It was the son who was intimately involved in the creation of the world as well. So not simply the father as we've seen earlier, and not simply the son, because also the spirit is involved, that the son is involved in that divine activity. Because in a real sense, when we think about creation, only God can create. Only God can create. So, you know, according to Wesley, Christ is the true God, the only cause, the soul creator of all things, and the true author of all, all the motion that is in the universe.

 

And so Wesley is filling this out, highlighting the divinity of Christ. Furthermore, he notes, when all things began to be made by the word in the beginning of heaven and earth, the whole frame of created things. The word existed without any beginning. And so we see in this context that the son's role in creation is not simply an instrumental one in which God the Father creates through the Son on the. Sorry. According to Wesley, we cannot doubt. But when the Son of God had finished all the work which he created and made, he said, These be thy bones. And so Wesley is clearly affirming the son's role in creation and not simply in an instrumental way, but was actively involved in the creation. Now, when we talked about God as a creator, we also talked about God as a preserver, as a sustainer of the things that have been made. And that's something that Wesley's going to affirm in terms of Jesus Christ as well. So not only is the son intimately involved in the creation, bringing forth the world and its many creatures, but as the true God, he is also the supporter. Wesley writes, the supporter of all things that have been made. That's his way of underscoring Christ's role as a preserver. That is, the son sustains all things by the word of his power. By the same powerful word which brought them out of nothing. And so, in a similar fashion, Wesley affirms, the Son of God is the preserver, the preserver of all things. He is not only the author of all motion in the universe, but also quote The life, the life of everything that lives, as well as the fountain of all life. Which man possesses? Wesley notes.

 

And so Wesley is developing this theme. He develops it in a number of places, not simply in one place. And so if we take a look at his sermon on spiritual worship. Wesley elaborates on this particular issue. He writes, quote. He not only keeps them in being, but preserves them in that degree of well-being which is suitable to their natures. He preserves them in their several relations, connections and dependencies so as to compose one system of beings to form one entire universe. One entire universe here. Okay, so. We see here then that. The sun. Shares the roles with the father in terms of creation, in terms of being an author, a supporter, a preserver of the things that have been made. And so this teaching of Wesley underscores the active care as well as the superintendence that is required to bring the world into being and to maintain ongoing. So it's established order. So here the son, to use Wesley's own words, is the Lord and disposer of the whole creation and every part of it. And so significant is this role that Wesley refers to the son as nothing less than the governor, of all things, that Christ shares that role as well, the governor of all things that are or wherever, created a role that includes, like the fathers, a providential governance over the children of men. Wesley writes, In fact, the same three circles of Providence. Remember, we were talking about that earlier, the circles of Providence, those same three circles that are evident in Wesley Sermon on Divine Providence with respect to the work of God, the Father are also present in this Christological sermon, spiritual worship, and so providential care and intent. This is very much a part of the son's work as well.

 

And see, by stressing all of that, that is an important way in which Wesley underscores the divinity of Christ, the divinity of Christ. Beyond this, Wesley ascribes a divine title to the son that is indicative of the the other teleological thrust, the goal orientation of much of his own theology. And so, accordingly, Wesley maintains that the Son as the true God is the end of all things, and in the sense of goal or purpose, the end of all things. According to the solemn declaration of the apostle who writes of him, and through him and to him are all things of him as the Creator, through him as the sustainer and preserver, and to him as the ultimate end of all, the ultimate and the ultimate goal, the ultimate telos of all. So simply put, from the origins of creation to the consummation of all things, the Son of God is the goal, the perfection in love and being to which human beings are directed. They are directed this way. Okay, now, finally, the Son of God is the Redeemer of all the children of men. Wesley writes, Jesus Christ as the very Word of God saves humanity from the guilt, the power, and ultimately from the very being of sin, and thereby ushers in a freedom unexcelled and unequaled. And that freedom being, of course, the freedom to love God and neighbor. This role of the Redeemer, whereby both forgiveness and new life are mediated to the faithful, is perhaps the best known, and in some people's minds at least, the only principal role of this Son of God. In fact, according to some current theological trends, the division of labor, so to speak, among PERCE, among persons of the Christian Godhead, is sometimes divided along the lines.

 

As we were talking about earlier. The father is the creator, the Son is the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit is the sanctify. However, we certainly know by now and we're seeing this once again that according to Wesley, the son of God, is suitably and accurately described in all of the following ways as the Redeemer, of course, but also as the creator, as the author, as the sustainer preserver, governor, and end of all things, no single function, in other words, is. Exclusive to God, the Father or to the Son or to the Holy Spirit, for that matter. Indeed, what one finds in Wesley's theology, especially as it is focused on Christology, we see an interpenetration of roles. For its part, the early church employed the language, the Greek language of Per Croesus to express this idea that the three persons of father, son and spirit mutually in here in one another, and indeed are what they are precisely in relation to one another. And so with this being in one another, a genuine permeation without confusion, it is not surprising to learn then of an interpenetration of roles as well, because being results in action. Okay. All right. I think we'll stop there and entertain some questions or comments you might have in terms of this material with respect to the person of Christ. When thinking about the divinity of Christ, it's interesting to read through the Gospels the Epistles revelation and think about what that really means and what it was like for people to see that from the beginning, because we read it from the end of the story, knowing the end. Yeah. And so to think about what it was like for him to appear on the scene and then to. To see him doing things that inform us about his divinity and then to ponder those things in the way that Paul writes about in Colossians and the way that John reveals them in Revelation it.

 

It seems like it's really worth the time to to think about that. Yes. I like your observation here. There is, on the one hand, the framework of story. And we have the story now. We know the beginning, the middle and the end. And on one level, that's a good thing. But on another level, that can become problematic at times because we may fail to get an appreciation of the lived experience of Jesus as he is living out his life in a community of people who are slow to recognize what is going to be clearly revealed at the end by his resurrection, in other words, by the Spirit of Holiness raising Christ from the dead. So that's a rather interesting observation. And actually, in the gospels, there are several instances where even among his own family, it looks like, you know, there's not this clear recognition. I mean, Scripture says even his brothers did not believe in him. Well, I guess James came around eventually because he became an early leader and a pivotal leader in the church. But scripture does say that at one point the New Testament talks about even his brothers not believing in him. And then, of course, and gosh, what do we do with this passage? There's your mother and brothers are outside. And the text suggests they're thinking, you know, Christ may be a little, you know, beyond the norm here. And they need to get charge of him, take direction of him. You know, what do you do with that material? We're so used to taking the end and then, you know, reading it back. And then we don't get an appreciation of the lived experience of Christ and those who are around him of how things appeared to them at the time it was happening.

 

You know, for us who are living our lives, you know, with a past and a present, we don't get that global picture until just prior to death. You know, just prior to death. We have, you know, the whole, you know, global picture. We can have that immediately in story, in narrative. But in terms of real life experience, there's a contrast there. So I like the fact that you are sensitive to that. And I've highlighted that because it's also the way I read the Gospels as well. I'm always thinking about those issues. You know, how are people receiving Christ now when is experiencing so much rejection and alienation and exclusion and this sort of thing, and is not, you know, Yeah, no, that's good. I like that. That's very good. So when I read scripture, when we're talking about the different roles, is it incorrect, though, to think of roles being ascribed to different parts of the Divinity? Because I mean, in Romans 826 that says the spirit intercedes for us. You don't I don't see verbiage. I mean, I completely agree, obviously, that the Godhead is equal, but. Right. It does give roles to different parts of the divinity, doesn't it? But when we think about interceding or we think about interceding on behalf of is that not similar to the work that the Christ is doing at the right hand of the Father right now in terms of being our advocate, interceding for us on the basis of his atoning death? You see what I'm saying? You know, the more I think about it, you know, can we really think about a role, you know, that would be exclusive to one of the persons of the Trinity? I think the only way that we can distinguish the persons would be in terms of the relations, as the Cappadocian fathers have suggested.

 

You know, the father is the UN begotten son is the begotten, and the spirit proceeds from the father. If you're from the West, you say, and from the son. But I think in terms of the, let's say, sanctification, the father is involved in sanctification, the son is involved in sanctification. The Holy Spirit is involved in sanctification.