learning the attributes of God from Jesus

A core Christian teaching is that Jesus is God:

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…
Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Logically, any essential attributes of God should be visible in Jesus. If God is defined with attribute x, then how could Jesus be God without that attribute? Jesus says of himself to his disciples:

Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Jesus is a picture to Christians of whom God is. What did Jesus show the disciples? Was it the traditional Latin attributes of God (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, timelessness, and immutability)? The answer is clearly no.

Jesus admits to not being omniscient (Mar 13:32).

Jesus was temporally located, not omnipresent. He walked to get around. He met with crowds. Mary even complains that he was not there to save Lazarus from dying (Joh 11:32).

Jesus even seems to have relied on God for his power, not his own omnipotence:

Jesus says after he healed an infirm man in John 5:

Joh 5:30 I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

This suggests that Jesus is just the vehicle for God’s power on earth. Jesus does not have these powers inherently. In fact he tells the disciples they can do greater powers than Jesus accomplished (Joh 14:12).

Jesus says after Peter attempts to defend him with a sword:

Mat 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

Jesus again is pointing out that the power is originating with God. In Acts, the disciples are shown to believe this:

Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—

And again in Acts 10:

Act 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Jesus was not omnipotent. He could not do everything, and the things that he did do were through the power of God.

Jesus definitely acts in time, ages, and matures. He is not timeless or immutable.

What is even more telling is that the Bible is clear that Jesus was just like us:

Heb 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

So in what sense did Jesus show his disciples “the Father”? It was in his actions, his relationship, his teachings, and his emotions. If Calvinists are to claim Jesus is God, they are at a loss to explain how not a single one of their championed attributes are shown through Jesus.

When a Calvinist plasters attributes of God onto a PowerPoint in church, think about which ones are shown in Jesus. This is a good test to see the differential in how Jesus portrays God and how Christians portray God. How do Christians measure up? Do they focus on the attributes that Jesus cares about? Or do they have their own private value system?

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Calvinism, God, Jesus, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Open Theism, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to learning the attributes of God from Jesus

  1. Pingback: negative theology | reality is not optional

  2. Pingback: the hierarchy of understanding God | reality is not optional

  3. Pingback: Knowing God through Jesus | God is Open

  4. Pingback: Jesus – lower than the angels | reality is not optional

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