Is God really like Jesus?

T.F. Torrance
When Jesus tells Philip, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), can he be believed? Is God really like Jesus? And what about its corollary: Is Jesus really like God? Note T.F. Torrance's comment in Reality and Evangelical Theology:
Only if God really became man in Jesus Christ, and really made our human nature his own in him, may we say that [biblical] statements [about God]... are related to what God is in himself in a real and not in a merely conventional or fictional way... (p110, 1982 edition).
At issue is Jesus' divinity. Is he merely a "godly man" or is he God come in the flesh, and thus Really God? Again quoting from Reality and Evangelical Theology:
This is precisely the problem that faced the fathers of the church at the Council of Nicaea, when they found themselves forced to come to a more precise understanding of what it meant to say about Jesus Christ that he is of God, for as they realized it is upon the answer to that question that the whole evangelical interpretation of the New Testament, and indeed of the Bible, depends. In what sense is Jesus Christ Son of God the Father?...Are the images of sonship and fatherhood...no more than empty names conventionally related to God as detachable, imaginary imitations of divine Reality and therefore quite changeable and relative with no permanent value? Or are they terms which, inadequate as they are in themselves, point ostensively to real relations in God beyond themselves, since they are economically rooted in God's own self-giving and self-revealing in Jesus Christ and are therefore ultimately real and valid in God as well as for us? As they sifted through the New Testament Scriptures, those who met at Nicaea were convinced that the relation of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father constitutes the basic ontological relationship or reciprocity in the Godhead in which all the language of the gospel is finally rooted and shaped. "All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knows who the Son is, save the Father; and who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whom the Son wills to reveal him" (Luke 10:22; Matt. 11:27). That is to say, a mutual relation of knowing and being obtains between the Father and the Son in the Godhead, and it is as that relation is actualized through the incarnation between Jesus Christ and God the Father that it becomes possible for us to know God in and through Jesus Christ in such a way that our knowledge terminates on the ultimate Reality of God himself (pp111-112).
Yes, thank God, Jesus really is like God and God really is like Jesus! Torrance famously puts it this way: "There is no other God behind the back of Jesus." Hallelujah!

Comments

  1. Hi there!

    This is quite an interesting post to me. This is so because the post articulates the challenge of Jesus. This challenge exists because a fictionalized Jesus is who exists in the minds of many. So, to these many, there is indeed another god (or gods) standing behind the back of Jesus. I pray and know that, one day, we will all see that there is not another god standing behind the back of our Savior.

    All the best!

    J. Richard Parker

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  2. I agree: Thank God, Jesus is REALLY like God and God is REALLY like Jesus! You reminded me of an account recorded in Paul Molnar's book "Thomas F. Torrance - Theologian of the Trinity" where, like Jesus spoke to Phillip, Torrance(a World War 2 chaplain on the front lines)speaks to a Private Phillips:

    "He (Torrance) relished ministering to soldiers in the front line and telling them of the Gospel. One particular incident stuck with Torrance for life. In October 1944 after an assault on San Martino-Sogliano during which he served as a stretcher bearer under fire, he came upon a mortally wounded 20-year-old solder named Private Phillips who was lying on the ground and clearly did not have much time to live. As Torrance bent over him he said, “Padre, is God really like Jesus?” Torrance assured him that he was and while he prayed with the man he passed away. But this question raised an important issue for Torrance himself: what had gone wrong in Christian theology that could lead someone to think in such a way that a wedge was driven between Jesus and God?"

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  3. Richard & Jerome: Thanks for your comments!

    To know that Jesus is the full and perfect revelation of God (i.e. that God is just like Jesus), is very reassuring to us because we know Jesus to be "full of grace" and truly a "friend of sinners."

    Knowing that God is just like Jesus is also vital in correctly interpreting Scripture, which sometimes is mis-interpreted to say that God is something other than full of grace and loving toward sinners. This problem often arises in interpreting the Old Testament. But a careful reading of it reveals, even there, a God who truly is full of love and grace. As I noted in my August 13 post, Dr. John McKenna does a marvelous job of demonstrating this in his book, "The Great Amen of the Great I-AM."

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  4. Colossians tells us that "the fullness of God dwelt bodily in Jesus Christ." The fullness of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That fullness of God which dwelt bodily in Jesus Christ STILL dwells bodily in Jesus presently and for always as He continues to live in His human glorified body. If the fullness of God dwells in Jesus then He IS God. Thanks for the other great comments and post.

    Paul Kurts
    Madison, AL

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