Continuing the “Learning to Listen” series (where we examine “secular” voices in the world, in order to get an idea of what questions they’re asking and the answers that can be provided by the “hands and feet” of God in the world), I thought it might be good to pull in a song relevant to the Christmas season.

In this installment, I’d like to consider “One of Us” by Joan Osbourne:

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If God had a name, what would it be
and would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with him in all his Glory,
what would you ask if you had just one question?

Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin to make His way home

If God had a face, what would it look like
and would you wanna see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
in things like Heaven and Jesus and the Saints
and all the Prophets and…

Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin to make His way home
Just trying to make His way home
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

Yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin to make His way home
Just tryin to make His way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to Heaven all alone
Just tryin to make his way home

Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

Interestingly, the writer of this song, Eric Bazilian, is (by some reports) agnostic in his beliefs, although he’s written other songs with a theme about God (for his band, the Hooters, named after a unique-sounding accordion-like instrument that is a signature sound of the band). Osbourne, it should be noted, grew up Catholic, though she left the church when she left home, with no religious affiliation since.

This song has intrigued me for a number of reasons, primarily for the polar reaction I’ve observed from Christians (even in my own family). In a number of ways, it counterbalances the tension many Christians experience in trying to understand the incarnation of Jesus – as both God and man.

What if God was one of us?

That is the heart of the Gospel – God WAS one of us!  He came an dwelt among us, he lived, he ate, he drank, he partied, he mourned, he taught, he listened, he loved, he chastised, he laughed, and he cried – he lived our experience, and he was without sin.

But if he was one of us, but perfect (in terms of sin), was he also perfect in social grace and mannerism?  A number of Christians I know are uncomfortable with the theme of this song – particularly that God could be a “slob” like one of us.

Was Luther’s depiction of the infant Jesus (who never cried, a la Away in a Manger) an accurate one?  Did Jesus ever have a hair out of place?  Was he a neat-freak, or did he worry at all about his clothing and appearance?  Per a question asked of Mark Driscoll (earning the outraged umbrage of Steve Camp and other ADM’s)  – Did Jesus ever use the bathroom?

For many Christians, the question of Jesus being God is never in doubt,  However, we seem to have an uncomfortableness with him being man, apart from the nature of sin.

But I would argue that his humanness is just as much a part of the Gospel as his God-ness.  It is his humanness that allowed him to connect with those around him.  It was his humanness and the low social stature of his birth and life that make his message both real and compelling.  God WAS one of us, and he chose NOT to go to all the right parties, and he chose NOT to lead governments, and he chose NOT to lead violent rebellion, and he chose NOT to be in the ‘in’ crowd.

What if God was one of us?

Praise the Lord, He was!  This is the event we celebrate this time of year, and it is the defining moment of our worship.  This is a question we should be prepared to answer, easily and humanly.  As for the song, One of Us, I’ve found it to be a good conversation-starter, since it is both part of pop culture and since it asks the question that I have to be most ready to answer.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 at 8:48 am and is filed under Christian Living, Commentary, Music and Art. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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79 Comments(+Add)

1   Joe    http://joemartino.name
November 30th, 2008 at 10:18 am

Great song. Great questions.

2   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 30th, 2008 at 11:46 am

He came in the likeness of a slob like us, yet without the essence of slobbery. I used to be offended by the words of that song, yet after allowing the Spirit to change the frequency of my spiritual hearing I can now hear the anguished cry of a lost sinner and with that I see the cross of redemption and not the voice of condemnation.

I reject the moral outrage about sinners that comes so often from those depraved sinners who have been GIVEN God’s everlasting grace. I would love to have God reveal to all of us how many believers have ever prayed for Joan Osbourne, especially those who have used the words of her song to publicly cement their own moral standing in the eyes and ears of their own amen section, and more importantly in their OWN eyes.

In the end, all of us stand as absolute slobs before God without even one small act of eternal goodness about which we can boast outside the grace of Almighty God.

Signed,

A Major Slob Clinging to Grace

3   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 30th, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I just finished reading Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson. In the last chapter he is focusing on the prayers of Jesus from the cross. I found this paragraph, as he commented on Jesus’ prayer ‘I thirst’ (John 19:28), insightful:

“We can hardly avoid facing and dealing with the plain, incontrovertible fact that Jesus had a body and that he totally inhabited that body until the last vestige of life was drained from it. ‘I thirst’ is the sacred witness that there was no ’spring of water gushing up to eternal life’ (John 4:14) left in him.

“In spite of this hard-edged, indisputable historical data–Jesus in his dying prayer for water, literal not metaphorical water–there are an astonishing number of people who somehow manage to think of and treat Jesus apart from his body: Jesus as a spiritual presence, Jesus as a theological dogma, Jesus as a moral example, Jesus as a ‘higher power,’ Jesus as a poetic truth.” (256)

Thanks Chris for another great post and a much needed contribution to the ‘Learning to Listen’ series.

jerry

4   john b    
November 30th, 2008 at 11:40 pm

I have recently finished reading The Shack and found it quite……….well, if I say “profound” I will be criticized by some. If I say “moving” I will be criticized by others. So let me say this……it moved me profoundly so that all that will be offended can criticize equally. LOL

I bring it up here as we consider the humanity of Christ and how it becomes rote to many of us but offends some when we REALLY consider it. In the same way some are offended by a similar but different tack in The Shack but moreso how God chooses to be be seen by the main character in the form of a middle-aged black women and the Spirit in the form of an Asian female type being.

What think ye? (If not off-topic. If so, moderator please delete).

5   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 9:03 am

Great post, Chris.

John b, I also found The Shack to be profoundly moving .

I think most Christians in the church today, when thinking about the Incarnation, still have vestiges of Adoptionism lingering – unwittingly, perhaps. Sure, we confess that Jesus is “fully God, fully man” but really we mean Jesus was fully God in the skin of a man. That is not Incarnation. It is not Immanuel.

It has been eye-opening for me to teach N.T. Wright’s Suprised by Hope to adult Christians and see the look of surprise on their faces when we discuss that Jesus is still a human being, post ascension. I find a lot of people don’t think through some of this and rather assume that if Jesus is “in heaven” than he must have gone back to being what he was before, a spiritual sort of being, and is therefore no longer “one of us.” They are pleasantly surprised to learn that this same Jesus who ascended as a human will return in the same way (human) and is presently interceeding and advocating for us on our behalf as a human being – fully God and fully man.

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 1st, 2008 at 9:17 am

I have not been fully convinced that Jesus had a human nature. The “fully God-fully man” is a systematic theological term unsubstantiated by Scripture. He came in the “likeness” of sinful flesh, but I lean toward the “Theos in a human body” view.

Therefore I can not except the suggestion that Jesus is a human being in heaven, He is the same YESTERDAY, today and forever. If He is now a human being that constitues a substantive change in His essence.

7   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 9:40 am

If He is now a human being that constitues a substantive change in His essence.

Rick, that statement alone is loaded with “systematic theological” maneuvers.

What or who is Jesus today? Or, perhaps a better way of getting at this – what is the promise given to us as humans as it pertains to our bodies in the future? If Jesus was resurrected in bodily form (which, given your understanding seems to be needless) and ascended into heaven in bodily form than why should we hope to be resurrected in body and live eternally as such if it is not true of our Lord today?

Another problem I see in this sort of adoptionism (and one of the reasons the early church called it heresy) is it causes a split between the physical and spiritual. It says that heaven cannot inhabit the “physical” but only the spiritual. It makes creation play second fiddle which usually leads to our demonizing it and reckless care of it.

8   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 1st, 2008 at 9:49 am

A glorified body – yes. But did He ascend with a human nature? I remain unconvinced. “A body Thou hast prepared for me”.

That body represented the last Adam, but I cannot accept the human nature theory, much less the human being in heaven supposition. All the names in heaven given to Him are divine.

I know I am in the minority in all camps, but that does not matter. It is not a matter of heresy, claiming that Jesus wasn’t divine is heresy. So discussion about this is thought provocing but probably above all our pay grades. :)

9   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 10:00 am

So discussion about this is thought provocing but probably above all our pay grades.

Sorta like discussing who will God choose to save in the end :)

As for the human nature: The early church concluded that God could not redeem that which God did not assume. Their understanding of the Incarnation was that God became “fully man” so that the totality of our humanness might be redeemed. Therefore, when Jesus’ body was resurrected our entire humanity was resurrected – not just the shell of our physicality.

I agree it is difficult to wrap our minds around this idea and it almost seems blasphemous to think of a holy and wholly other God stooping so low as to take upon our flesh and even our nature. It is for this reason the gospel is thought to be so scandalous – and foolishness. But that is exactly what the first Christians concluded and I think they are right.

To continue down the path you describe (and many have) really makes the incarnation a needless affair. It requires one to then conclude that the temptations Jesus went through after his baptism and the desires he had in Gethsemene, among other things, nothing more than God play-acting. It is just one more way we humans devise to keep God at arms length and out of our messy world – which defeats the whole point of Christmas, IMO.

10   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 10:10 am

Phil 2:5 – Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

To say “mind” in Paul’s day is to go far beyond mere physical nature or “form.” Paul is speaking to our nature. Paul also speaks of continually being transformed by the “renewing of our minds,” which again, he is not speaking of our human “form” or mere physical body.

Rick, how can I as a human being ever hope or aspire to have the “same mind” as Jesus Christ if Jesus never assumed my nature and redeemed it in such a way as to make this possible?

11   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 1st, 2008 at 10:23 am

Well, I think it’s gets back to the idea that the Jews pretty much always talked of God moving in a downward direction, i.e., God making His dwelling on earth. The Greeks looked at it the other way. They talked about how man could move upward. Most people think like Greeks today. They are more concerned about how we can go to heaven, than in talking about where God is working on earth.

It’s interesting that in Revelation, the picture that we’re given isn’t of all of us in heaven, removed from earth, but it’s of heaven and earth together at last. So God’s desire to dwell with His people is ultimately fulfilled.

12   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 1st, 2008 at 11:37 am

Of course the word mind here relates to attitude and perspective. It cannot be stretched to mean we can achieve Christ’s nature. Christ Himself dwells in us and that is His gift of grace which we should be striving to obey.

God (Logos) came inside a human body, I do not see clear Scriptural teaching that says there were two persons in that body, one human and one divine.

13   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 1st, 2008 at 11:42 am

Chris L, I saw the title of this post in my reader before I had a chance to read it, and wondered if you had forgotten to put “De-sanitizing Christmas” in front of it. ;-)

But I would argue that his humanness is just as much a part of the Gospel as his God-ness.

Stand back from that statement for a second, boys and girls. Chris makes some good follow-ups points/expansions on that, but let that statement stand on its own for a bit. I’d even suggest meditating on it, if certain people weren’t reading this.

=====================

Rick, “the essence of slobbery” is this week’s awesome band name. ;-)

14   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 1st, 2008 at 11:48 am

the outraged umbrage of Steve Camp

Runner-up for this week’s awesome band name.

15   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Well, I don’t think there is anything in Scripture to suggest that Jesus resurrected as anything other than what he incarnated as. That said, his resurrection body was substantively different insofar as he could appear/disappear (Luke 24), ‘fly’ (ascend, Acts 1), and appear in a room where the doors were locked–of course I’m assuming here that the Bible is telling the truth about these things too and that might be silly for some of us.

That said, when he confronted ‘doubting Thomas’ he didn’t offer him evidence of a magical body but said ‘put your finger in my side.’ In other words, he gave Thomas evidence of his crucifixion, evidence of his flesh, evidence that he had indeed died at the hands of Rome. Now I don’t think that means you and I will necessarily be able to fly or disappear or walk through walls (there won’t be much need for it after all), but I do think it goes a long way toward suggesting that even though we are sown perishable, we will be raised imperishable, sown corruptible but raised incorruptible insofar as our resurrection is anything like that of Jesus’.

I’ve always been intrigued by this statement of the apostle, “The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven” (1 Cor 15:47). He goes on, “As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.” (15:48)

And then there’s this: “I declare to you brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (15:50)

Oooh, so much mystery and intrigue. What fun! What fun! Hey, Chris P, if you are out there, what do you think about all this?

jerry

16   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 12:47 pm

And then there’s this: “I declare to you brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (15:50)

Jerry, I know you have read Surprised by Hope. What did you think of Wright’s treatment of this passage?

Now I don’t think that means you and I will necessarily be able to fly or disappear or walk through walls (there won’t be much need for it after all),

I am a little confused by your last statement here, about no need for “it”. Why do you think that is the case? Do you not think that the resurrected body of Christ is a foretaste of what our own will be like? Or are you suggesting that there will not be any physicality in the new heavens and earth?

peace.

17   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 12:53 pm

God (Logos) came inside a human body, I do not see clear Scriptural teaching that says there were two persons in that body, one human and one divine.

Then you are more in step with orthodoxy than you give yourself credit for :)

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your pov, but I was taking you to say that God more or less “adopted” a human body (carcass) and was only human insofar as he looked human, yes? That is to say, God did not take on our “nature” in any way. Is that what you are saying?

18   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

19   Bo Diaz    
December 1st, 2008 at 2:58 pm

I reject the moral outrage about sinners that comes so often from those depraved sinners who have been GIVEN God’s everlasting grace. I would love to have God reveal to all of us how many believers have ever prayed for Joan Osbourne, especially those who have used the words of her song to publicly cement their own moral standing in the eyes and ears of their own amen section, and more importantly in their OWN eyes.

Valuable words, especially with Ingrid apparently believing that bringing comfort to victims of AIDs is not required since they’re mostly homosexuals.

20   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 1st, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Hey, Rick, it looks like your comment wasn’t Ingrid approved. Tsk, tsk!

21   Sandman    
December 1st, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Sorta like discussing who will God choose to save in the end.

I tend to disagree with some aspects of that. I mean, we agree God has the ultimate say, but I think we’d be opposed to any teaching that says we can never be sure of our salvation, or that God is capricious in His judgements, sin is all in your mind, etc. The things we can be certain of, we can discuss with certainty. The things we can’t be certain of, we should be careful to not raise our speculations, opinions, or desires to the level of foundational doctrine.

A wrong view of God creates a wrong view of sin creates a wrong view of salvation. (That’s not directed at anyone, it just seemed appropriate to say.)

Many people have died thinking they were good enough as they were, there was no urgency to meet Christ as Savior, or that they had need for a Savior because there was only this life and nothing after that.

I have not been fully convinced that Jesus had a human nature. The “fully God-fully man” is a systematic theological term unsubstantiated by Scripture. He came in the “likeness” of sinful flesh, but I lean toward the “Theos in a human body” view.

I would argue it was humanity without the sin nature.

Chad’s #17 voices the same questions I had about understanding what you’re saying. That, in turn, raised some questions in my own head.

I also look at Jesus being the “Second Adam” (through one man, sin entered the world…). Who and what, then, was Adam?

God can’t be tempted, but Jesus was, and remained sinless.

If God just took on a human form, would a virgin birth have been necessary, or the growing up years? Why not just create a body, or bodies, like the JWs teach about his post-resurrection appearances.

If God just took on a human form, wouldn’t that be kind of disingenuous?

22   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Chad,

Two quick things. First, ‘it’ referred not to the new body, but to the ‘flying’, ‘walking through walls,’ etc. My point, I concede that I worded it poorly, is that those things will be sort of meaningless. New body, great! Superpowers in the new body, eh.

Second, I’ll have to refresh myself on Wright’s position and get back to you. Although, I did quote a lengthy paragraph from that book Sunday.

jerry

23   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Brendt,

Think this one gets any props for awesome band name:

“The flabby, uninformed evangelical mind.”

It should.

jerry

24   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Then again, isn’t ‘they’re baaack…’ a quote from the cult-horror film Poltergeist? I wonder what such erudite evangelical mind like the one posting at SOL would be doing watching Poltergeist and quoting it on top of that!?!?! Frankly, I’m a little shocked and surprised and just a little more disappointed. :)

25   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 1st, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Phil: Hey, Rick, it looks like your comment wasn’t Ingrid approved. Tsk, tsk!

Ingrid: Unfortunately, it’s just the same old stuff the church had to address centuries ago.

“address” being interpreted today as “… and the horse Galatians 6:1-2 rode in on, particularly that ’spirit of gentleness’ crap.”

26   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Congrats, Rick! :)

While driving I was thinking of the descriptor, “fully human.” I want to play with that a bit and get some feedback from ya’ll…

I have a hunch that some of our hesitation in suggesting Jesus is “fully human” is we internalize this and assume it must mean the same as being “fully Chad” or “fully Rick” or, simply, fully me. Surely Jesus is not the full embodiment of me, for I know myself and would not want a Savior that is me but to the nth degree. No thank you.

But…what if “fully human” doesn’t mean the fullest of you or I but rather the Magnanamous Human – the FULL human being? Jesus Christ is not fully human in the sense that he is just like me but rather he is fully human in that he is everything I am meant to be. He is the image of God personified and in him and him alone I find my identity – in him I learn what “being human” truly means.

We humans muck this up. We try to define what it means to be fully human. Christmas season is a time where we are reminded of just how far off course we are. The Enlightenment brought us the vision of the magnanamous man: the White Male Colonialist, the essence of what it means to be “human.” We are caught in this endless cycle to become what the world has defined as human. We all want to “be like Mike.” This is sin.

Jesus enters into the structures of our self-made identies of power and economy and politics and whithers them from within by entering in through the back door (Incarnation). He shows us what it is to be “fully human” by being in complete submission to the Father, our Creator, even to the point of death. He turns our politics and power games on their heads by suggesting outrageous things like “the first shall be last” and “the last shall be first” and “those who wish to save their life will lose it” and “turn the other cheek” and being servant to all rather than lord, even though he rightfully could be.

This is the Second Adam – the way we are meant to be. In Jesus we find an identity that goes far beyond the magnanamous man the Enlightenment gave us. This is an identity we can all live into – one we can all seek to “be of the same mind of.”

thoughts?

27   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 1st, 2008 at 4:18 pm

jerry, I find that one a bit cumbersome. But what if we made an acronym of it?

The FUEM

28   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 1st, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Proof that it’s a Monday and I really don’t want to do my work.

29   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 4:43 pm

lol Brendt.

30   Aaron    
December 1st, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Brendt,
lol! I laughed so loud, I scared my cat. :)

31   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
December 1st, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Brendt,

That is classic. Needs to be frontpage. For the merest of moments, I didn’t hear my children fighting over the PS3. Back to reality.

jerry

32   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
December 2nd, 2008 at 12:34 am

Glad you guys enjoyed my weirdness.

Still waiting for Rick’s reaction since (a) he inspired this and (b) I gave him something of a HT on the poster.

33   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 2nd, 2008 at 3:28 am

I am back. I am so amused that Ms. Ingrid reads this stuff, she is such a hoot! I guess she overlooked the heresy about women teaching men and rebuking elders. :)

Sites like SoL are one continuing safari to hunt down gossip, dirt, compromise, and a host of other negative big game animals. There is only one negative thing not allowed on that site – a mirror.

34   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 2nd, 2008 at 8:02 am

Oh, and by the way, it is sooo comforting to know that in certain quarters they have the Incarnation all figured out and that discussion is quite unnecessary, even while we all espouse the clear Scriptural teaching concerning the deity of Christ.

“When doctrine is hammered out, not from Scripture and the subsequent historic Christian teaching”

How Roman Catholic of her, the traditional teaching of the church is authoritative. Let me quote from Strongs:

homoioma – (3667 from 3666 from 3664) – a form; abstrct resemblance – made like unto, likeness, shape, similitude

The word is used 6 times in the New Testament and all of which refer to form and likeness. To suggest that the word implies a human nature is torturing the Greek. That doesn’t mean He did not have a human nature, it just reveals a manipulation of that verse to fit a predetermined doctrinal view.

Of course discussing the humanity of Christ is heresy, but “baptism saves” is sound doctrine. To each his own said the lady as she kissed the cow!

35   Sandman    
December 2nd, 2008 at 10:20 am

I read Ingrid’s post. I don’t think she liked that nickel/spittoon line, Rick.

The problem I have with it is there is that which I agree with at the core, but then there is all this stuff wrapped around it that’s been run through the Hyperbole Bath and the Universal Escalator, and voila! Rick’s personal persuasion is now representative of all evangelical thought.

If you’re going to hold yourself up as a watchman on the wall, you need to resist in sounding the klaxon as though the barbarians are at the gate every time a sparrow lands on the wall.

36   nc    
December 2nd, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Well, in some ways it’s good to know that the lurkers still need this site to remain angry to the glory of god…

And Chris P says this site is worthless…I mean where would all the imams get their sense of meaning without it?

Congrats, Rick. That spittoon comment wins the lifetime achievement award for grudge inspiration.

I mean, didn’t you say that like 2 years ago?

;)

37   nc    
December 2nd, 2008 at 2:15 pm

although…

now that I think about it…

you might out do yourself with that stuff about “kissed the cow”.

I’ll leave it at that…

;)
;)

38   nc    
December 2nd, 2008 at 2:17 pm

re: There is only one negative thing not allowed on that site – a mirror.

Is that the mirror that gets all swirly with clouds and has a freaky green man living in it that gives you bad news?

That one is so cool.

39   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 2nd, 2008 at 3:34 pm

“If you’re going to hold yourself up as a watchman on the wall, you need to resist in sounding the klaxon as though the barbarians are at the gate every time a sparrow lands on the wall.”

I wish I had said that. :cool:

40   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 pm

If indeed Jesus was fully human as was Adam, then He could be tempted and sin, just like Adam. I do not believe that at all, and if that isn’t true than He was not human as are we.

41   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 2nd, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Well I do think Jesus had the ability to sin, in that He had free will as a human. I believe that He was truly tempted in the desert, and that it wasn’t just some sort of game with Satan. I think where we get hung up is when talk about God can and cannot do verses His nature.

His actions reveal His nature, but He’s not God based on what He can and can’t do. This is why Augustine got hung up on the question of whether not God can defy logical laws and such.

42   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 2nd, 2008 at 11:43 pm

I agree, Phil. Like I said before, Jesus was not merely play-acting in the wilderness or in the garden. To suggest that all that was for show or some sort of game is to make the incarnation pointless.

43   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 12:02 am

Doesn’t scripture say he was tempted in all things, but did not sin.

To experience temptation itself is not a failure…or a sin.

Ya’ll should go back and read Cyril, Athanasius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, etc. to get a sense of how this discussion has already been had.

44   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 4:14 am

If Jesus did not sin like Adam because of His divine nature, then His humanity was not like us because it was trumped by the divine.

“To suggest that all that was for show or some sort of game is to make the incarnation pointless.”

The point of the incarnation was the cross and resurrection, and living a sinless life was part of that “point” and not the core. Since Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, we can also assume that His blood was not altogether human but divine.

I believe the temptation He endure came from outside and not from within, hence He never lusted for women but women did try and tempt Him. God cannot be/experience tempted (internally). If Jesus was human as was Adam then part of His nature was a created being, which would be heresy.

I do not consider the opposite view as heresy, but I have given this issue some thought and at this time I can see God/Logos as being in a created body but not being existing as two persons within that body. We do know He was NOT like Adam in that He could read minds, walk on water, etc..

BTW – Unless a person gets the correct doctrinal view of Jesus’s humanity he cannot be saved. :roll: Isn’t living and speaking in a way which severely misrepresents who Jesus is, isn’t that “practical heresy”? I wonder if I would be afforded a chance to respond to SoL’s post about my so called heresy in a measured and respectful way?

Respectful discourse between believers on those type of blogs? Nahhh…what was I thinking.

45   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:12 am

I find myself agreeing with the Bible on this one, Rick…

And..believe it or not…so do Chad and Phil ::gasp::

Philippians 2: 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, [2] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He humbled himself, making himself nothing, into human form, so that he could die. But being fully God, his shed blood was effective to pay for the sin of all mankind. (Chad, I am sorry to say, this does not mean all are saved)

John 1:14 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.

Jesus Christ became flesh and dwelt here among us, but he had clear distinctions- in Him could be seen his clear relation to God in that we could see his glory, and, He was full of grace and truth.

46   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:15 am

nc- exactly.

The point of the incarnation was the cross and resurrection,

Rick, I don’t think that is the case. Incarnation itself is of far more import than just a set up for Calvary. It is, if nothing else, a demonstration of God’s solidarity with creation.
The temptation narratives themselves are powerful stories recapitulating the life of Israel. Whereas Israel said “no” this Christ said “yes” to God. There is no sense in these stories that this was a done deal – there is no sense that Jesus wasn’t really, truly tempted and that he could not have chosen differently.

As with every Advent season, along with nc, I recommend the short but profound read of On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. It is beautiful and a wonderful way to prepare devotionally for Christmas.

I wonder if I would be afforded a chance to respond to SoL’s post about my so called heresy in a measured and respectful way?

When pigs fly.
I found it amusing that on one of her posts she lauded some other blogger who thinks like her yet allows comments on his blog. She remarked how brave that was of him and how it requires a lot of time and effort to do so. Why would it require a lot of time and effort unless you feel it is your duty to ensure no one disagrees with you?

47   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:20 am

I find myself agreeing with the Bible on this one, Rick…

And..believe it or not…so do Chad and Phil ::gasp::

*sigh* Oh PB, if only it were so simple. As soon as I hear or read someone say “I agree with the Bible on this one” all sorts of red flags go off in my head. Sure, PB, Rick has decided in this case to jettison the Bible while you, in this case, have decided to agree with it. Well done. I’m sure Rick is kicking himself for not having decided as you have. What were you thinking, Rick??

48   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:44 am

“Col 2:9 – For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”

It uncomplicates things (a little) to remember we are all either bi-part (spirit-soul and flesh) or tri-part (spirit / soul / flesh) beings, which ever position you take. The spiritual omnipresent Christ was incarnated into flesh and will remain so (as far as has been revealed) for the rest of eternity in His glorified body which shall forever bear the marks in eternal testimony.

Col 1:15- He is the (AJ)image of the (AK)invisible God,

Christ’s physical body is the nexus, the ultimate exegesis of the Father to the physical universe. Necessary to enable the finite creation to glimpse the infinite Creator. The dual natures are in dynamic tension/union, not entertwined/co-mingled.

The eternal Spirit of Christ found Himself housed in a physical body whose wants, desires and temptations were very real. However, Christ’s Spirit was incapable of sin but He did have to choose. Although the outcome was certain, the battle was real. His most agonizing temptation was to forego the cross and face separation from His Father. The physical manifestation of this internal battle was to literally sweat drops of blood so great was the struggle. The temptation was real but the outcome was certain. This certainty of sinlessness does not negate or diminish the passion.

Christ did not “cheat” because He was deity and could not sin.

49   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:50 am

#48

There is Chad being right again…

That was arrogant of me, though I didn’t mean it to be. I find Rick to be one of the most reasoned people I come in contact with on the bloggosphere, and I know he does not jettison the Bible. He loves the Bible.

My apologies, Rick.

We still disagree on this one… :)

50   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:11 am

There is Chad being right again…

Proof that it is Advent – miracles happen. Chad is right and PB acknowledges it. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

51   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:11 am

It uncomplicates things (a little) to remember we are all either bi-part (spirit-soul and flesh) or tri-part (spirit / soul / flesh) beings, which ever position you take. The spiritual omnipresent Christ was incarnated into flesh and will remain so (as far as has been revealed) for the rest of eternity in His glorified body which shall forever bear the marks in eternal testimony.

I actually take the position that we were created to be whole beings. The idea that there are separate, distinct parts to our beings is an idea that was fleshed out by Greek philosophers, and in many ways adopted by Christians. There is an element of truth in it, but I think where it goes off track is the idea that the body is imprisoning the soul/spirit in some way (I’m not saying you were saying that).

So when Paul uses the word “fleshly” or “spiritual”, he isn’t talking about the material that a body is made of, but rather, what the force that motivates it. So in essence, even though Christ was an actual human in the flesh, he was completely spiritual, meaning he was motivated entirely by the Spirit of God.

52   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:20 am

bi-partite or tri-partite “talk” can be great as a means to talk about aspects that we experience of the human self, but I don’t think there’s any way to justify it as indicative of the ontological structure of a human.

I’m with Phil on this…

53   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:42 am

If indeed Jesus was fully human as was Adam, then He could be tempted and sin, just like Adam. I do not believe that at all, and if that isn’t true than He was not human as are we.

You’ve really got me flummoxed now, Rick. Where is your support for this?

1) Was Jesus really tempted in the desert?

2) Did Jesus have a choice of whether or not to go to the cross?

3) Was it even possible for Jesus to sin, had he wanted to?

4) When Jesus was praying (and sweating blood) in the garden, was that all for show?

Paul (your favorite theologian, second only to Rick Frueh) even notes that Jesus is the second Adam, and I’m finding myself in agreement with the other guys here, Rick. Trying to separate his “spiritual” being from his “flesh” being is somewhat gnostic in construction, and tends to throw the entire reason for his incarnation into question…

54   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:51 am

1) Was Jesus really tempted in the desert?

I think since we know the outcome of the story (or think we do) we read these stories in the gospels with so much detachment and lose the high drama being played out.

The first audience of these stories would have been reading the temptation narratives with a sense of awe. They would have been on the edge of their seat wondering how this is going to pan out. They knew their own history, and so they had every reason to think that this “Israel of God” was going to follow suit – and fail.

People would not have read these and thought, “well, of course he didn’t give in to these temptations because he is the Son of God, the 2nd person of the Trinity” but rather, they would be thinking, “who is this human that has responded in such a way to God that we as a people have failed? There must be something special about him…lets read on….”

IOW, Jesus did not survive the wilderness because he was divine. He is divine because he survived the wilderness.

55   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 10:59 am

Temptation can be in two ways. James says a man can be tempted by his own lusts, which would exclude God. But a person can also try and tempt another and not elicit an inward temptation from that person.

I can be tempted by a piece of cake, and yet when I am sick a person can wave a piece of cake under my nose and I am not tempted. It is my belief that sin tried to tempt Jesus and yet Logos cannot EXPERIENCE temptation. Adam was sinless but not perfect. Jesus was sinless and perfect.

I would like to at this junction observe how edifying it is to discuss and disagree about deep Biblical issues without rancor and hubris, and how often do we actually meditate on the incarnation? This is iron sharpening iron without anyone being labeled a heretic…yet. :)

56   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:12 am

This is iron sharpening iron without anyone being labeled a heretic…yet.

awww, Rick, you take all the fun out of all this! How can we enjoy ourselves if we don’t label someone as “out”?

57   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:14 am

I’m still crunching the numbers. :cool:

58   Sandman    
December 3rd, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Devil Child! Devil Child!

Name the movie.

The church I go to did a series on temptation some time ago.

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. After a 40-day fast, Jesus was on the ropes, and Satan shows up with his A game.

I can be tempted by a piece of cake, and yet when I am sick a person can wave a piece of cake under my nose and I am not tempted.

But that’s not quite a parallel comparison, Rick. Eating cake is not, in and of itself, sinful.

The temptation Jesus was faced with was to meet a legitimate human need (sating hunger) in an illegitimate way (by turning stones to bread).

If you’d gone 40 days without eating, had no money, and you came upon a bake shop that had fresh-baked everything and no one was in sight to see you…

59   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 2:46 pm

“Phil: I actually take the position that we were created to be whole beings. The idea that there are separate, distinct parts to our beings is an idea that was fleshed out by Greek philosophers, and in many ways adopted by Christians. “

Phil, Greek philosophers may have addressed the issue, but the distinction between body and spirit is a thoroughly Biblical construct in Jewish (Oriental) thought and is an completely inescapable and integral part of Christian theology.

Matthew 10:28 – “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 26:41 – ” Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Romans 8:10 – If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

1 Cor 7:34 – … that she may be holy both in body and spirit; …

1 Thess 5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 2:26 – For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

To understand the distinction does not take away from the wholeness of being and indeed, is the only way to make sense of the Christian’s struggle with sin.

60   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 2:59 pm

To understand the distinction does not take away from the wholeness of being and indeed, is the only way to make sense of the Christian’s struggle with sin.

I’m not sure what you’re meaning by this statement. Care to elaborate?

There are ways in which we can say certain parts of are life are spiritual and some are bodily, but in Jewish thinking a full life meant living a holistic life. There wasn’t the thought the body was only sinning because it was flesh.

It gets back to what I was saying before – when the terms “spirit”, “flesh”, and “soul” are used it is often in the sense of what the motivating force behind an action is. So a Christian should be Spirit-led, not “soulish” or “fleshly”.

Also remember that the word for spirit basically implied breath – so a body was only alive because God breathed into it. So the point of the verse in James is that a body and spirit can’t really exist without each other – just like faith and works.

61   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Actually, I wouldn’t cite Jewish sources for the idea of a distinct soul/body bifurcation.

The insistence on persons who are bodies is actually thoroughly Jewish…and its assertion and preservation is what made the Christian emphasis on bodies so strange within Hellenistic thought

62   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Actually, I wouldn’t cite Jewish sources for the idea of a distinct soul/body bifurcation.

“Bifurcation” – now that’s a word you don’t hear everyday…

Yeah, I mean the fact Jewish people went to such great length to ensure a proper burial, and the fact that they gathered the bones after the flesh had decayed said a lot about their views on the importance of the body.

63   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 4:49 pm

Phil: So the point of the verse in James is that a body and spirit can’t really exist without each other -

That’s my point. The distinction is real and relevant.

64   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 4:52 pm

To understand the distinction does not take away from the wholeness of being and indeed, is the only way to make sense of the Christian’s struggle with sin.

All I meant here is an understanding of the distinction between spirit and flesh (and the resultant war between the regenerated spirit and flesh) is pivital to understanding how Christians find themselves committing sin after their born again experience.

65   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:30 pm

NC and Phil:

The bifurcation of soul and body was well established in Jewish thought.

Genesis 35:18
It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni;

Psalm 31:9 – Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.

Isaiah 10:18 – And He will destroy the glory of his forest and of his fruitful garden, both soul and body,And it will be as when a sick man wastes away.

Psalm 88:10 – Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah

Further, the concept of this duality is present in probably every society throughout time. Can you name any totally nihilist cultures?

And finally the whole Christian mindset is that the flesh is fleeting and temporary and our affections and focus should be on the eternal. There have obviously been unbalanced heresies throughout Christian history (gnosticism for example) that totally discounted the flesh, but I don’t understand exactually what your “wholistic” approach buys you. It certainly can’t be supported at the expense of the dual nature of man explicity taught in scripture.

66   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Sandman – it wasn’t hunger He was being tempted with, it was an indiscriminate use of divine power about which He cannot be tempted.

67   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Yeah, I mean the fact Jewish people went to such great length to ensure a proper burial, and the fact that they gathered the bones after the flesh had decayed said a lot about their views on the importance of the body.

Contrast this with Paul:

1 Tim 4:8 – for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

68   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Again, I don’t understand your theology of man and the importance of the flesh in the overall view of eternity.

69   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:45 pm

And finally the whole Christian mindset is that the flesh is fleeting and temporary and our affections and focus should be on the eternal. There have obviously been unbalanced heresies throughout Christian history (gnosticism for example) that totally discounted the flesh, but I don’t understand exactually what your “wholistic” approach buys you. It certainly can’t be supported at the expense of the dual nature of man explicity taught in scripture.

I’m not saying that Jewish thought didn’t allow that there was such a thing as a soul. I’m just saying that the idea that the soul was eternal verses the body temporal was not there. Immortality of the soul was an idea that started in Egyptian and Greek cultures. Jewish thought was that God created the earth and physicality, and it man came alive by God breathing into him. Immortality wasn’t an inherent property of humans. Apart from God there was no life.

Now when the righteous died, there was an idea that there soul or spirit was kept alive by God somewhere, i.e., Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise, until the resurrection. But the idea that our final state was disembodied existence somewhere was not Jewish.

The most basic tenet of Hebrew law is the Shema, which says,

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

So the fact that it’s giving a mandate to love God with your whole person, is enforcing the holistic approach. You can’t love God with just your spirit, with just your soul, or with just your body. It takes your whole being, and in end, God will redeem and restore our whole being.

70   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Again, I don’t understand your theology of man and the importance of the flesh in the overall view of eternity.

I think you’re confusing “flesh”, as in the substance verses “fleshly” as in the motivation. Our “fleshly” desires and motivations were corrupted by the fall, and our actual bodies have to deal with the physical consequences such as decay and sickness. But it’s not our actual physicality that’s cursed per se. There’s nothing evil with the stuff were made of. God made it to be good, and He’s going to redeem it on the last day.

Jesus was raised with a physical body as the first fruits, and we will be raised with a renewed physical body as well.

71   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
December 3rd, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I Corinthians 15 makes it clear that upon death our spirits will be clothed with a body of God’s glory. This body is a body of death and can be made to serve God by the will, however left to its own it is God’s enemy and in a process of decay.

Who teaches a disembodied existence?

72   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 3rd, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Who teaches a disembodied existence?

Mainly liberal Christians in the vein of John Dominic Crossan or Marcus Borg…

There are some theologians who claim that Jesus didn’t actually physically rise from the dead, but say the resurrection was purely spiritual. I think there are a lot of people who tend to think this way today. I would say those on the conservative mostly have it right on this issue, but it’s the mainline Protestants who are out in left field.

73   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 6:50 pm

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Phil, Yes, let’s take a look at that passage. I would argue this passage proves (indirectly) that one can only love God within the spiritual/soulish facet of our being. “Strength” would at first lend one to think of the body, but not necessarily as there is a strength of will. The body is but a housing (temporary at that) for the spirit/soul. The body is inanimate in and of itself, divorced of the spirit/soul. It is but an artifice. “We” are to honor the Lord with our bodies. What is the “we”? I contend it is the spirit/soul who is the “real” person. I will exist outside my present physical body. The resurrected body is a differrent concept, but again just a housing for the spirit/soul.

74   John Hughes    
December 3rd, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Phil: There’s nothing evil with the stuff were made of. God made it to be good, and He’s going to redeem it on the last day.

Agreed. But again, even the redeemed body is but a vessel for the spirit/soul.

75   Sandman    
December 3rd, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Sandman – it wasn’t hunger He was being tempted with, it was an indiscriminate use of divine power

Rick – isn’t that what I said here:

The temptation Jesus was faced with was to meet a legitimate human need (sating hunger) in an illegitimate way (by turning stones to bread).

76   nc    
December 3rd, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I don’t think a Hebraic understanding of “soul” in the OT is the same as the Hellenistic understanding of “soul”.

Same word, but different cultures and philosophies…

77   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 4th, 2008 at 9:57 am

I don’t think a Hebraic understanding of “soul” in the OT is the same as the Hellenistic understanding of “soul”.

Same word, but different cultures and philosophies…

Yeah, I think in Judaism, “soul” referred to the animating force within someone. So it was separate from their body in a sense, but it couldn’t fully exist apart from a body. It’s sort of like electricity – it needs some sort of conductor. Electricity exists outside of the wires it’s running through in some sense, but not really.

So God somehow keeps our souls in the time between our death, but we aren’t really fully alive again until the resurrection. We’re alive, and I believe aware in some sense, but we were meant to have bodies.

One of the clearest pictures of the afterlife in Judaism is in Daniel 12:2 & 3:

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

It’s this idea that Paul is expanding on in 1 Corinthians. So everything he says about the resurrection and the spiritual body has to be read in the light of this.

78   Sandman    
December 4th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Re: nc’s #77

That was something I noticed in a number of humanities classes in college. The professors were always trying to look at the Bible and Christianity through the lens of Greek philosophy and Western thought. My argument is you really can’t do that because the Jews were pretty resistant to those influences. The gnostics were known for borrowing, collecting and compiling lore from all over the place (one had no greater value than another), but the Jews didn’t do that. So, if a person wants to examine Christianity’s roots, Judaism would be the proper starting point.

If I recall correctly, there are a number of OT and NT verses that draw a distinction between the soul and spirit, and they’re not used interchangeably.

79   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
December 4th, 2008 at 12:25 pm

If I recall correctly, there are a number of OT and NT verses that draw a distinction between the soul and spirit, and they’re not used interchangeably.

Correct. “soul” (”psyche” in Greek) is different than “spirit” (”pneuma” in Greek). Actually in 1 Corinthians where Paul is talking about the difference between earthly bodies and heavenly bodies (as most translations put it), it is more accurate to read it as “soulish bodies” and “spiritual bodies”. The adjective is referring not to the substance of the bodies, but the animating force.

So a soulish person is one who is animated by regular earthly forces. A spiritual person is animated by the Holy Spirit. Both are on earth and both have the same physicality, but the spiritual person will inherit an incorruptible body at the resurrection.

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