The de­ity of Christ

The Covington News - - Religion - John Pearrell Colum­nist

In my last ar­ti­cle we looked at the cru­cial doc­trine of the de­ity of Christ. The de­ity of Christ has been and con­tin­ues to be a source of con­tro­versy among all who seek to de­nude him of any real power. We want to make him a good moral teacher (though a good moral teacher would never have claimed what he claimed) or a mere re­li­gious teacher akin to Moses or Mo­ham­mad or oth­ers.

But Christ has not left us with such op­tions. His claims are clear. C.S. Lewis sums it up nicely when he writes, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a de­mon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any pa­tron­iz­ing non­sense about His be­ing a great hu­man teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not in­tend to,” [Martindale and Root, Ed­i­tors, The Quotable Lewis, (Tyn­dale House Pub­lish­ers, Wheaton, IL 1989 p. 340)].

One of the clear­est claims to divin­ity is recorded for us in John 8:58. Let’s look at this im­por­tant verse. To put it into con­text, we need to read verses 57-59: “‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, ‘and you have seen Abra­ham!’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Je­sus an­swered, ‘ be­fore Abra­ham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Je­sus hid him­self, slip­ping away from the tem­ple grounds” (John 8:57-59 NIV).

Had Je­sus wanted to claim sim­ple pre-ex­is­tence, he could have used the Greek word “was.” It is the word Je­sus uses when he refers to Abra­ham. In the NIV the word is trans­lated, “be­fore Abra­ham was born.” The Greek word here is “gen­esthai” and means “to come into be­ing.” By us­ing this word, our Lord here locks Abra­ham into time. Not only does he lock him into time, but by use of this word, Je­sus points to the tem­po­ral be­gin­nings of Abra­ham.

Then he does some­thing un­heard of; he switches tenses com­pletely. In­stead of us­ing a word which would in­di­cate a beginning, re­gard­less of if it was a beginning in the past or present, he uses the Greek word “eimi”, tak­ing him­self out of time and claim­ing eter­nal­ity. What he ac­tu­ally does here is he takes the proper name for the God of the Covenant, and ap­plies it to him­self.

When Moses said, “Who shall I said sent me,” God an­swers him tell them “I AM” has sent you,” (Exo-

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