"Drive-By" Lie
Monday of Easter 4
23 April 2018
Every few years the "drive-by" media takes a pot shot at orthodox Christianity, by highlighting the work of some so-called Christian theologian who has suddenly discovered that Jesus is not God. The report of this "discovery" implies that the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth was a pious fiction intended to limit human freedom. For if there is a God who becomes incarnate and offers His sinless life for the world in a gruesome death on the cross, then such a God is surely a spoil-sport and an oppressor of human aspirations.
 
This modern "discovery" of the mere humanity of Jesus of Nazareth is risible on the face of it. It is only accepted by those who, through their ignorance of the facts of the matter, are duped into believing that this is some fabulous new discovery. It is a shame that our Christian folk, who are among those who are being duped, do not know the most basic church history, for they would be able to laugh at these claims and give them the short-shrift they deserve.
 
The claim that Jesus of Nazareth was not fully divine was a claim decisively made already in the early fourth century A.D. when the Christian deacon Arius of Alexandria began to teach that Christ was a mere creature who had come into existence in time by the creation of God. Arius intended to rescue the Godhead from contamination by way of change by making the claim that Jesus was not fully divine. This was a laudable goal. God is changeless. If Christ changes, He cannot be God. The problem here was that Arius ignored the divine revelation that Christ had no beginning according to His divinity, but that according to His humanity He was born in time of the Virgin Mary. He was both changeless God of God and changeable man born of Mary. 

How is this possible? There is the "how?" question again. God takes care of the "how." We confess the "what." Here we see St. Augustine once again responding to the claims of Arius one hundred years later in the early fifth century because a good lie is always being resurrected, just as it still is today. The claim that Jesus is not God is hardly new! That this claim is wrong is likewise hardly new.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Augustine of Hippo
"Those who have said that our Lord Jesus Christ is not God, or not very God, or not with the Father the one and only God, or not truly immortal because He is changeable, are proved wrong by the most plain and unanimous voice of divine testimonies; as, for instance, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' For it is plain that we are to take the Word of God to be the only Son of God, of whom it is afterwards said, 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,' on account of that birth of His incarnation, which was wrought in time of the Virgin. But herein it is declared, not only that He is God, but also that He is of the same substance with the Father; because, after saying, 'And the Word was God,' it is said also, 'The same was in the beginning with God: all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made' (Jn 1:1, 14, 2-3).'Not simply 'all things;' but only all things that were made, that is; the whole creation. From which it appears clearly, that He Himself was not made, by whom all things were made. And if He was not made, then He is not a creature. If He is not a creature, then He is of the same substance with the Father. For all substance that is not God is creature; and all that is not creature is God. And if the Son is not of the same substance with the Father, then He is a substance that was made. If He is a substance that was made, then all things were not made by Him. But 'all things were made by Him,' therefore He is of one and the same substance with the Father. And so He is not only God, but also very God. And the same John most expressly affirms this in his epistle: 'For we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life' (1 Jn 5:20)."

 Augustine, On the Trinity, 1.6
John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
 
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (ESV)
Prayer
O Christ, You have been revealed to us as the true God and eternal life. Grant that the Holy Spirit would enable us to confess this most basic truth over against the monstrous lies that the father of lies feeds to the unaware. Help us to say that we have a God who in Christ is willing to become incarnate of His virgin mother that He might provide salvation for us men. Amen.
 
For people travelling for a time of rest and relaxation, that the Lord would keep them safe in their travels
 
For LouAnn Webber, that the Lord would be with her in her time of recovery and that she might regain her strength
 
For the Council of Presidents as the Council places into office those who are found to confess the wholesome faith of the church, that the Council would be filled with the Holy Spirit
 
For lost young people who have drifted into gang life, that they might be converted to Christ and live the life of Christ
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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