Oct 17, 2011
From time to time those of us who are ministers get sent questionaires about our beliefs. Here are my responses to the latest one - it was a useful reflection for me...
1. Who is Jesus and what is your take on him?
Jesus is a real human being like you and me and also truly God who in himself has reconciled all creation to God and to itself.
2. Do you believe Jesus was a real person in flesh?
3. What do you believe about his claims to be divine?
4. What is your belief about the ‘virgin birth’?
I believe that Jesus was from conception both truly human and truly God and that it does not really matter whether Mary was actually a virgin. Having said that, I take a conservative view of the Bible so I believe and I believe in the miraculous, so I guess my answer is I believe in it but I’m not going to lose any sleep about how I might explain it in terms of sexual reproduction, eg was one of Mary’s eggs used, etc. etc. The important thing is the incarnation, the other is interesting but not necessary for salvation.
5. What do you believe about the ‘miracles’ Jesus is said to have performed – for example walking on water?
I believe that the miraculous does happen and that Jesus did miraculous things. I do not know if some of them may have also had a scientific or psychological explanation, but that Jesus did the seemingly impossible and did things such as walking on a stormy sea I do believe.
6. If you believe in the miracles, did Jesus perform the miracles as God or as man?
Yes to both
7. Do you believe someone can be 100% human and 100% God at the same time (can God take on flesh) and if so was Jesus?
Yes to both. The only reservation I would make is that I understand the Trinity primarily in terms of relationship rather than power. The primary thing about God becoming one of us in Jesus is that the eternal Son who has always been The Son of the Father became truly one of us. The central thing about his divine nature is that he still shared/s that relationship with the Father as a human being. There must have been some power implications in this. The church through the ages and even today struggles with this question of the relationship between the divine and human natures.
8. Did Jesus’ death on the cross happen as a man or as God?
Both! I recognise this is a bit controversial and again has been much debated in the church but I believe that God could not truly become one of us without death. We all die – it is part of what it is to be human.
9. What do you believe about Jesus claims to have never sinned?
Because of that perfect relationship with the Father, I believe it to be true, understanding of course that sin is not doing naughty things, it is deliberately living life apart from God and God’s will. (All of us who do not have that same relationship that Jesus has eternally with the Father are sinful.) Jesus clearly did things like break the Sabbath law but he was always in that perfect relationship. (By the way I can’t immediately recall if Jesus ever claimed himself to be sinless.
10. Why do you believe Jesus was on earth?
To show us what God is like.
To reconcile us to God through his perfect relationship and through his life and death.
This has incredible implications for how we should live.
11. Where do you believe Jesus is now and what impact does this have for you now?
Jesus is with God the Father, still fully divine and fully human, but he is also present with us through the Spirit. It means that I a human being can approach God not in fear but with hope, love and expectation. At the heart of the being and nature of God is a human being just like me. (I have a “mate” with the Father.)
Hebrews 4:16 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
It also means that God is closer to me than even my own breath, and because Jesus and the Spirit are also in perfect relationship with each other there is a sense in which Jesus is also in and with me.
12. What do you believe about the Bible – is it fact or fiction – history or myth and why?
It is in the words of JRR Tolkien “true myth” That is I believe that much of what is recorded in it actually happened but that its purpose as a book is not as a scientific text book or as a historical text book. I don’t believe God or the writers had this in mind when the words of the Bible were compiled. I don’t think that the compilers of the cannon had this in mind either when they chose the books that we now call the Bible. Modern understandings of science and history had not been developed. To quote the Bible I believe its purpose is “to instruct [us] for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”. 2 Timothy 3:15 The Bible is not a fact book, but a book written to show us the truth. The truth about God and our relationship with God, and how God offers us a restored relationship through Jesus, by the Spirit. To use a parallel example, the story of the ANZACs at Gallipoli is a real event which really happened, but in our Australian culture it has become a myth, it has soaked into our understanding of who we are as Australians in terms of things like mateship and self understanding. When we tell the story on ANZAC day our primary concern is not to relate facts. Our primary purpose is to reflect on the character of our nation and the horror and tragedy of war.