Jesus Christ… the God-Man?

The Dual Nature of Jesus Christ

The dual nature of Jesus Christ is a central teaching of both Trinitarian and Oneness (Monarchian) theology. In both beliefs it is commonly said that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. Trinitarians believe Jesus is one of the divine “persons” in God who visited our world during His incarnation while Oneness proponents believe Jesus is the Father Himself incarnate. Both views advocate for the “God in a human body” position and both have developed some pretty fancy theological footwork to explain and defend their doctrine. Trinitarians use the concept of a hypostatic union while Oneness believers endorse the same teaching without labeling it a hypostatic union.

A Schizophrenic Vision of God

Some very clever church fathers once came up with the notion of an “impersonal human nature” for Jesus Christ to support their belief in the trinity. They obliterated the essential humanity of Christ by declaring that He is “man” but not “a man”. This approach completely does away with the idea that Jesus was actually an individual human being like the rest of us. Oneness belief states that Jesus sometimes spoke as man and other times spoke as God and it’s up to us to decide which is which.  No matter how they explain it both of these positions leave us with a schizophrenic vision of God and Christ that is unbiblical and ultimately incomprehensible.

“God in a Body” Belief Systems

Ceasar's were also seen as incarnate godsEgyptian pharoh's were incarnate godsThese dual nature “God in a body” belief systems have some very ancient roots. The earliest records we have of “God-man” thinking can be traced all the way back to Egypt. The Egyptians believed that pharoah was God on earth in a human body! Somehow it isn’t at all surprising that later Alexandrian philosophers, ( Alexandria, Egypt), refined and “Christianized” what was originally a pagan idea. Roman beliefs likewise ascribed divinity to their Caesars, and just like the Alexandrian church fathers, the theologians of Rome transposed “God-man” ideas onto their Christianity. We are left with the conclusion that Trinitarian and Oneness beliefs drink deeply from a river of pagan thought that flowed first through Egypt and later through Rome.

A Man Who Has Told You the Truth

Jesus Christ was not an abstract repository of humanity and divinity. He plainly declared Himself to be “a man who has told you the truth”. He was born and lived and died as one of us. He was not “man” with an impersonal human nature, He was “a man” and more than that… He was a perfect man.  This Jesus rose from the dead as the firstborn of God’s redemptive plan and now invites us to join Him. What miraculous grace that God would call us and invite us to share in the immortality of His only begotten Son!

Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes

Water is a Biblical symbol of the refreshing nature of God's Spirit.

A Fable for Thirsty Souls

In Another Time and Another Place

In another time and another place there was a young man who found himself born on the shores of a lake more beautiful and refreshing than he could describe in words (though he would often try). How he had come to be there was something of a mystery only understood by the Master of the Waves who owned the waters and all who swam in them. Somehow the young man understood that his life near the waters had to do with memories of a terrible and killing thirst. Mostly though, he had simply learned to love the One who filled the waves and sent the gentle breezes to him, and who gave him the sweet stillness of the morning and the evening.

The God of the Waters

In the course of time he came to know that the waters were truly his, and would always be his. The Master had even given him a fountain, one that he could take with him into the dryness where men still went mad and died from the killing thirst that he himself had known. It seemed that the feel of the water and its fragrance,  even its sounds as it splashed about him had become the very stuff of his life. When the God of the Waters had fully satisfied the young one He sent him back into the dry places with the assurance that his small fountain would be enough to cure even the worst of the killing thirsts. Even the nearly dead and delirious could make their way to the shores of his beloved lake if only they would take a sip.

The Property Owners Association

No one told him about the Property Owners Association. These were people who claimed to own the lake and the right to determine who got to swim, and when and for how long. They even claimed to speak for the Master of the Waves and insisted that the young swimmer forget about the water and pay more attention to cleaning up the lakeshore. Worse than that they insisted that the cure for the killing thirsts was just tidying up a bit and then going to work on the property owners’ pet projects. And do you know what? The young man was so naive and gullible, and they were so insistent and their president so forceful that the young man believed them!

After Many Long Years

After many long years of intense labors the young man had such an odd thing happen to him… one day he somehow managed to get the scent of his beloved waters once again. It was so unexpected, and so welcome. Actually, it made him realize that his little fountain had nearly dried up and that he had begun to feel the effects of the killing thirsts all over again. He realized that he didn’t really belong to the Property Owners Association and didn’t want to and had done enough of their projects to last him a lifetime. More than that though, it was the water that drew him. Just the smell of it and the feel of it and its refreshing.

The Master of the Waves

The Master of the Waves, how good it was to see HIM again and to know His stillness and His gentle breezes. And the young man decided he had learned a valuable lesson. The Lake belonged to the Master after all, and the Property Owners Association really didn’t have much to do with the water, or with the Master either.

Copyright circa 1995 by Bob Shutes

PS: This was written in hopes that it might be a blessing to all who are bound by or leaving the dryness and chains of legalism. May God grant you peace and an abundant supply of living waters for your journey.

Understanding the Mystery of God

God has a lot to say about who will know Him and who will not. Scripture teaches that understanding the mystery of God and Christ involves revelation from God. When Jesus asked the question “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” Peter answered “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou Simon Barjona for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven”(Matthew 16:13-17). Jesus also said, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son, and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Luke 10:22)

The Eyes of Your Understanding

Preachers can preach and teachers can teach about “the mystery of God and Christ” but unless God gives understanding nothing will be gained. Jesus taught, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him…” (John 6:44)  and “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Our hope and prayer is “That the eyes of your understanding may be opened…” (Ephesians 1:18)

It is a Gift to See and Understand

The scales that blinded the Apostle Paul’s eyes were put in place by God Himself and then removed in keeping with God’s sovereign will. This faith of ours and our ability to hear it, understand it and believe it is not of ourselves it is a gift from God. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) It is a gift to be called by God and it is a gift to hear that call. It is a gift to see and understand the true identity of the man Christ Jesus.

Blessed Are Your Eyes for They See

Jesus had a lot to say about people who hear but don’t hear and see but don’t see. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears for they hear.” (Matthew 13:13-16) He still cries out in the marketplace of ideas today, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!” Somehow the simplicity of the message of God and Christ, of the Father and the Son has gotten lost in the speculations and imaginations of philosophers and theologians.  The message that there is one God, the Father and His only Son, the Christ still blazes on the pages of the holy book for all who can see it. If you want to understand the mystery of God and Christ just ask God to reveal it to you. He surely will.

Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes

The God Who is What?

Is God One What and Three Who’s?

We ask the question The God Who is What? because trinitarian scholars tell us that God is “One What and Three Who’s”. To us, describing the God of Israel as one “WHAT seems like a strange way to talk about Him. Now we can’t help but wonder about the meaning ofOne What. Does this odd language reveal anything Biblical or true about God? If God is a divine WHAT should we speak of divinity as IT rather than Him? Would this help us worship WHAT and pray to IT in a way that is more pleasing? When we say “WHO and WHAT is God” are we asking a question or making a statement? I hope all this is clear, but if not, just watch the classic Abbott and Costello routine called “Who’s on First” and you will see that the logic of the Trinity is comedy of the highest order.

The Holy One of Israel

Trinitarian thinking is like being in a house of mirrors at a carnival sideshow where nothing appears normal. Mirrors and words can both distort reality and make things look other than they really are. Maybe we should get rid of the idea that God is The Holy One of Israel and say instead that God is The Holy What of Israel! If God is a Holy What  should we even use the word “what” in normal conversation anymore since it no longer means what it used to mean? Trinitarian theology can sure get confusing. Thank goodness we have theologians, scholars and comedians to help us find our way!

One What and Three Who’s Made Clear

A dialogue between a scholarly theologian and a new disciple.

Theologian: Do you have any questions?

Disciple: Just one. Can you tell me about God?

Theologian:  Of course. God is one WHAT and three WHO’S.

Disciple:  One WHAT?

Theologian:  Yes! That’s right. God is one WHAT.                                                          

Disciple:  Hey! Wait a minute! What are you talking about?

Theologian:  Yes, I’m talking about God is WHAT I’m talking about!

Disciple:  WHAT exactly do you mean?

Theologian:  I think you’ve got IT!

Disciple: Got WHAT?                                                                                                       

Theologian:  Yes!  The One WHAT that is three WHO’S. That’s WHAT! Now you know WHO and WHAT is God. With a little more study you could be a real know IT all!

Disciple: I just want to know WHO God is. WHAT is the most important thing?

Theologian: That is exactly right! I couldn’t have said IT better. You know WHAT is WHAT and that matters more than anything. Just remember God is one WHAT and three WHO’S.

Disciple:  I don’t think you’re helping me. You’re talking nonsense and I’m getting a headache!

Theologian: Yes, this can sound like nonsense but WHAT  doesn’t?

Disciple:  You’re crazy! I don’t think you really know anything about God.

Theologian: WHO knows!

THE END

Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes

What is the Hypostatic Union?

Ask the average person on the street about the hypostatic union and you’ll be greeted with a blank stare. Is it a labor union maybe? Perhaps hypostatic workers who unionized for better pay and benefits like the AFL-CIO? But if you ask a theologian about the hypostatic union you’ll get an earful! Trinitarian scholars claim that Jesus had two natures! They theorize that Jesus was God and Man joined into one person by way of a mythical hypostatic union. He was “man but not a man” and although he had a human nature it was “impersonal” so He really wasn’t a genuine human individual. They claim God inhabited a human body but the man Jesus Christ wasn’t a true human being at all, He was not actually one of us. These are novel intellectual gymnastics but scripture does not indulge in this kind of thinking. Not for one minute, not for one second, never.

Jesus Christ is One of Us

Jesus said, “I am a man who has told you the truth I heard from God but now you want to kill me. Abraham wouldn’t have done that.” (John 8:40) The Apostle Peter said Jesus was “a man attested by God to you by miracles wonders and signs  which God did through Him in your midst” (Acts 2:22)  Moses prophecied about Jesus declaring “a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto thee, from the midst of thee, of your brethren, like unto me”. Now Moses was a great man indeed but he was still a man and Moses claimed this prophet would be like him. (Deureronomy 18:15) These are straightforward and understandable Bible verses. Do you really think we have to believe in a hypostatic union or an impersonal human nature to make sense of them?  We don’t think so either.

Jesus Said “I Am a Man”

Jesus never claimed to be God Himself but He did claim to be the Christ. He told us plainly that he was a man, a human being like us. “I am a man who has told you the truth!” He was a man who came in His Father’s name, did the works His Father showed Him and spoke the words His Father put in His mouth. (John 14:24) Jesus was a perfect man and His courage, compassion and sacrifice on Calvary were all intensely personal.  We declare that anti-scriptural notions like the “hypostatic union” and Jesus’ so-called “impersonal human nature” detract from the beauty and glory of His life.

Copyright 2022 by Bob Shutes

PS: This is what most Christians believed in the first three centuries of the Christian faith… and what many believers are re-discovering in our times. These are wonderful and ancient beliefs and if you get the chance please share them. God Bless.