May 11, 2011

God and Father

  1. "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not." (II Corinthians 11:31)
  2. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" (Ephesians 1:3)
  3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," (I Peter 1:3)
There it is, three times in the New Testament: in two (?) of Paul's epistles and once in an epistle ascribed to Peter. In the first chapter of Romans he addressed the believers in Rome: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." It appears to me that he considered God our Father and "the Lord Jesus Christ" as two separate entities.

Finally he directed us to pray to our Father; I wonder how it happened that some Christians seem to pray exclusively to Jesus.

I've meditated often on that phrase, especially how it impacts the Trinity.
The Trinity, as you may know, was promulgated at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. The Council was made up of the 'orthodox' bishops through the Roman Empire and under the heavy handed direction of a tyrant named Constantine. He had become a Christian (of sorts) and decided that Christianity would be the favored relgion in his Empire. He was adamant that every Christian must believe the same thing.

A large portion of the 'Christian' bishops was made up of people who did not perceive Christ as God; they were called Arians (today they might be called Unitarians). The 'orthodox' bishops, actually servants of the state religion (you might say civil servants), proceeded to harry and persecute the Arians and drive them into Europe where they proceeded to make Christian 'barbarians'. That's a fascinating story, but we're interested in "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ".

In those days the term 'Lord' did not necessarily imply diety. It was a mark of respect, such as what is owed to one's employer, one's superior of any sort, particularly to one's religious authority.

God likewise had a far different meaning than it does in current thought. The Caesors beginning with Julius Caesar (in 44 B.C.) were successively deified until the advent of Emperor Constantine in the
4th Century: "At this point the growth of the Imperial cult ceased as the state religion slowly shifted to monotheism (Mithraism, Sol Invictus and Christian)". (UNRV: Imperial Cult) But 'Peter' and Paul lived in the polytheistic culture of the Roman Empire.

2 Comments:

At 9:12 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Okay, one of the things that's made Paul's thinking pretty much gibberish to me... is this stuff about being "in Christ." I'm told that Greek prepositions aren't like English, and I don't know the details of that, but believe this may offer a hint.

First off, let's temporarily bypass that word "Christ"-- which does not mean the same, as we've heard it used, as "Messiah" to a 1st Century Jew. The Messiah was a promised king of Israel, not necessarily an "avatar" of Yahweh (as "John" seems to interpret the title "Christ".)

So, given that kings of Israel were called at-least-honorary "sons of God, the title "Messiah" would imply "God's son", although not in a biological sense. "You are my son, today I have begotten you," as Psalms 2 addresses a generic new King of Israel, and as early manuscripts of Luke address Jesus at his "baptism."

So yes, one proper Jewish interpretation of Jesus' role-- and we don't have it that Paul considered himself anything but a good Jew-- would be that God is God, period; while Jesus is simply his Messiah aka his chosen king aka "God's son." Given that Jesus spoke of God as "our Father"-- as being like a father to at least his Jewish audience-- "Peter"'s usage here fits.

Getting back to my initial difficulty... Could "in Christ" be shorthand for something like: "being among those who've recognized & come under the Messiah's authority"?

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger forrest said...

If these 3 quotes are from Jewish Christians, regarding Jesus as the Messiah, this is natural (while "the Trinity", like the bomb test named after it, is an abomination. Then again, that doctrine can be taken poetically as a way of pointing out the different modes in which God can act.)

As for why "some Christians seem to pray exclusively to Jesus", I believe that God sometimes looks much like Jesus, while Jesus sometimes looks much like God. After all, a Messiah-- a human King of Israel-- is supposed to be a "son of God", ruling the Kingdom of God in the same way God would want to do it.

 

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