Summary: Who is Jesus? He is fully God in every way.
January 24, 2010
To the Dalai Lama, Jesus was an enlightened guru, likely a fully enlightened being. To the Mormons, Jesus is an exalted man who made his way to godhood—just as we can; some versions of New Age mysticism have this view of Jesus in common with Mormonism. To the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he was a man, the first created being by God the Father—but not God come in the flesh.
And then, we can look at two “equal, but opposite” views about God popular in our society today. One is the viewpoint that one Christian researcher attributes, sadly, to a significant percentage of today’s young people: deism. To be more specific, Christian Smith and his researchers, having interviewed over 3000 teenagers (many who were professing Christians), identified the worldview as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, consisting of the following tenets:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth."
2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions."
3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself."
4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem."
5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
Needless to say, this is not the God of the Bible. Neither is the opposite, increasingly-popular Near Eastern conception of God: pantheism, which sees in everything “God”. Focusing on a “god” that is immanent as opposed to a God that is distant and uninvolved (a la Deism), pantheists see the divine as being simply one aspect of everything that can be seen or experienced. You’re divine, I’m divine, all God’s children are…god! Interestingly, as N.T. Wright points out, both of these bogus conceptions of God lead via different paths to the same conclusion: anyone making any distinctions between religious faiths is intolerant, divisive, and arrogant, particularly if one claims that his particular brand of faith is the only one. But as Wright says, “few who embrace one or the other of these beliefs…stop to consider how remarkably arrogant and imperialistic these rejections of the supposedly arrogant and imperialistic religions really are.” By embracing the viewpoint that they have discovered what all the religions of the world have missed—that really, all the religious viewpoints in the world are ultimately and underneath the same—these “tolerance advocates” give away the arrogance of their own position.
But I digress: we as Christians proclaim that God is manifest in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ, that when we see Jesus, we are not only seeing some ethereal “essence” of God, but we are seeing very God of very God Himself. Everything we believe is predicated upon this; without it, any professed “Christian” faith is mere counterfeit.