When we learn a new language, usually one of the first things is to conjugate the verb "to be" -- I am, you are, they are, I was, you were, they were, etc. Back in the day, I was taught that the two things on either side of "to be" are equal and interchangeable. This morning I had other thoughts about that.
So let's say --- The flower is red. Supposedly I could also say -- Red is the flower. But I see a possible different inference in these two examples. The first sentence implies that a specific flower has as one of its qualities the color red, perhaps even implying that is all the flower is or is of importance in the moment. The fragrance, the shape, etc. are not discussed - whether or not they are of importance. All we know is that the flower has red coloring.
In the second sentence there is an inference that the color red can at least partially be defined as flower. It could imply that is where red is seen. Maybe it can be seen elsewhere, but we don't know that from the sentence, Also the sentence doesn't address purple or pink or other colors of flower. Red and the flower are equated. But they cannot be equated. The flower is so much more than red, and red is so much than flower.
My thoughts then moved to theology. Jesus is God is a sentence often heard. Reversing it, God is Jesus. The two sentences have the same challenge as the flower example above.
We need to ask -- in what sense?
Jesus is God implies that this specific man has the quality of God without addressing the rest of his life and without defining in what sense is this accurate. Common modern scholarship says things like, Jesus was a person so aware of God that people felt God's Presence when they were with him. He was a place where the Divine shone through clearly and without distortion. He was a man who consciously walked with God. He knew The Way to God and taught us how to walk The Way too. It does not address others who also walked with God, Elijah for example. Jesus walked with God, yet is not the only one to have done so.
But the reverse is radically different. God is Jesus implies that Jesus is where God is in fullness, that the High Almighty God, the Creator is contained in Jesus, perhaps exclusively. This, of course, is impossible as God is infinite and cannot be contained. But without thinking this through we get some pretty shaky theology that does not withstand philosophical examination.
Jesus did not claim that he was God and for sure he did not claim he was The Father God. He prayed to God and told us to do so too. Jesus never told us to pray to him. He urged us to do greater things than he did. He told us the kingdom of God is within us. He told us stories about how spiritual life worked. He was magnificent. You can be magnificent too. We can, if we take Jesus seriously and deeply hear him tell us about God, God's Love and The Way to walk to be in communion with God,
I think that some churches, which are declining in attendance all over the planet, are telling a shallow understanding that just doesn't fly. I think people yearn for relationship with God and Jesus can lead us there, not with the mixed up theology of Nicea and other definitive groups and persons, not with patriarchal nonsense, not with ignorance of the context of his teaching, not with make believe. We need a more mature, examined, mystical path, which I believe can lead us to Know God and not just take second hand information about what others say.
This is the day and you are the person -- let us set our lives upon The Way.
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