Is Jesus Christ the Son of God?
In the last copy of EINSICHT I had already asked the question about the recognizability of Jesus Christ as Son of God, as the “Word” that has taken “flesh” and is also expressed as “become Man”, or Incarnate. "Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine: et homo factus est", as the Creed teaches us.
In order to be able to verify this claim which was put forward and which has been conveyed to us by the tradition of the Church – Scripture and Church Life (Tradition in the narrower sense), I had postulated the following:
“In the tradition there must be a moment, an original point which shows me the way to accede to the absolute person, who must then reveal Himself to be this Person, a revelation of Himself. The problem of searching for God is for every person the same: Faith is a grace which I would not experience without the help of God. So God must show Himself to me, open the door to Himself as a Person, with whom I am to enter into a relationship if He opens Himself to me (cf. Gospel of John).”
Now: How can the question of the recognizability of Jesus Christ as Son of God be answered? And what conditions are attached to the recognizability? And can such conditions be shown? The answer to these questions is highly relevant.
If there is a development which decisively forms our spiritual and cultural situation, our fully established secular world, then it is due to the insidious loss of the faith in the “Word Incarnate”. This faith in Jesus Christ which was at least still the principle on which Luther stood, has evaporated like “the dew drops in the morning sun”..., with all the resulting consequences. To make it clear: If we do not (or cannot) answer the question of the recognizability of Christ as Son of God, we have no right to reject other religions. For if we can only refer to the mere handing down of the contents of faith which are historically assured as a contrast to Islam, then Islam only needs to take the question of where the Koran came from and assure us its authenticity is to be found in Mohammed’s Life and the scholars of Islam of Western background assure us it is, so we have to allow them to refer to their tradition as well.
The solid observation of St. John: “He came unto his own [people], and his own received him not“ (John 1, 11) which he had made regarding the refusal of the Jews to recognize the Messias and to receive Him as such is particularly valid for our present secularized times. Possibly the lack of belief was the reason for the acceptance of the heretical documents “Lumen gentium”, “Dignitatis humanae” and “Unitatis redintegratio” at the 2nd Vatican Council, where the other religions (among others Judaism and Islam) are also said to have the effectual salvation and are recognized as such.
The refusal to acknowledge Christ as true God can also be seen in everyday life. It is less and less directed towards the coping with spiritual, moral problems but more towards executing material interests, at best towards executing human interests. So visiting a Church is more and more replaced by going to an expensive restaurant where the pleasure of the meals cooked by an excellent cook get an almost liturgical character. Transferred to Bavaria, this means: The visitor of the “Holy Mountain” in Andechs, the most famous place of pilgrimage here, does not go into the Church with the miracles of hosts any more, but remains ‘stuck’ in the neighboring inn.
In the meantime, the importance of answering this question has been recognized by some persons. So the former Federal Minister of Labor and Social Order Norbert Blüm stated in a public talk show in the ARD with the moderator Günther Jauch that actual, controversial theological positions could only be clarified if the decisive question were answered: Is Christ the Son of God? And has God has really revealed Himself?
In the meantime the FSSPX has also published a brochure which also deals with the question: “Is Jesus Christ the Son of God?” (pius.info, Stuttgart 2013) and answered it on the one hand by quoting the sources verifying Christ’s historical existence and on the other hand showing the authenticity of the gospels. The fulfillment of the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament is also quoted as a proof for the truth of the divine revelation in Jesus Christ as well as Christs own evidence about His mission on earth. However, this evidence about and of Christ only confirms what the tradition as such can give us. The decisive question: What right do I have to say that Christ is the Son of God, is unfortunately not answered.
It is not surprising, for with this problem we get into more or less new areas of the philosophy of religion. And I ask the readers to see my explanations of this problem as a mere attempt to reach a solution step by step. I am open to any interjection which will hopefully lead to a further clarification of the question of God’s appearance on earth.
The mere handing down of knowledge – Scripture and Tradition – certainly gives us an extensive knowledge about the Person of Jesus Christ and through it – similarly to other historical evidence – but it is not in itself a foundation on which to be able to say with conviction that He is the “Word made flesh” (John 1, 1 ff.).
If the claim of the Incarnation is to be justified in the mind, then there must be a momentum in the material handed down which allows us to justify this claim, that is, to respond to it. I already called this momentum “genetic” or “self-evident”. On the one hand it has to be anchored in tradition, on the other hand, however, it has to outshine the latter. It has to show its own dignity out of itself as absolutely valid, with regard to its form and contents.
On the one hand it is handed down as momentum of tradition – from person to person – (cf. Romans 10:14: “How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?”), on the other hand everyone must experience this enlightenment of this genetic momentum, i.e. of the Divine Being. In the Old Testament the Divine Being is spoken of as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This does not mean, however, that it is spoken about three gods – one for everybody – but about the fact that each of these persons had his experience with God.
This momentum – formally seen –, as it ought to/must exceeds the level of merely stating the being of God, and though not conveyed externally, that is by some other manner, it must testify for itself. As God is not a mere being but an absolute requirement which in itself requires its absolute fulfillment, so a requirement which also requires its required being. In its testifying for itself it must appear as that what it is supposed to and it is supposed to be what it is. In the Old Testament God testifies for himself with the statement: “I am, Who am.” “Ego sum, qui sum” (Ex. 3, 14). In order to fill this formal structure with contents we must return to that which we then find in the testimonials transferred to us through tradition: “the will of Christ who gives to man not only his love as a will of union in love, i.e. in a common will, but who also wants to take us out of our being embroiled in sin by His death of atonement and who wants to make us able to make a covenant with Him again – if only we accept his offer, i. e. we learn about Gods love and his love which is even more than love, when he loaded upon himself the sins of man as if it were his own sin.” “Him (Christ), who knew no sin, he (God) hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5, 21)
Now, what must happen so that I get, in this life, to rise up to the insight that God indeed shows Himself as One who acts like that and not only a saintly (earthly) person? If I study for example the biography of St. Francis, his saintly action discloses itself to me, but therefore I do not speak of him as of God. The same is valid for all saints, for the holy Parish Priest of Ars as well as for St. Don Bosco who in my opinion was one of the greatest pedagogical geniuses. What is the difference between the voluntary, saintly testimony of a John Vianney or a Don Bosco and Christ? Formally in the fact that these persons in their efforts for a saintly life do not refer to themselves as the reason for the way they act, but to the example, the model of Christ, in emulation of whom, that is, in the imitation of Christ, they see themselves. They try to unite their will to that of Christ, to make themselves similar to this Person. This would be the first point: that saintly persons do not sanctify themselves by themselves but always in reference to Jesus Christ.
With regard to content it needs to be that I see in Christs will the absolutely holy act, which I can deduce from His life, i. e. by studying the Holy Scripture or in His love of another person who leads me to the principle of His love. So if my knowledge about Christ is to go beyond that of the historical horizon, so that I do not see in Him a specially holy person as did Arius, then something in Christ is presented in the sources (the tradition) must enlighten me so that I do recognize Christ as the principle of absolute holiness, where Christ shows Himself as God and testifies for Himself as such. If I get this insight, then Christ appears as God, how He is, and He is as He appears: as the absolute love which in its love of atonement super-elevates itself and which now also burns in my heart.
So the question asked at the beginning: “Is Christ the Son of God?” is answered – at least in general terms.
I will have a look at the saints once again. They have strived for perfection in their lives, they have progressed from point A to B, out of an unholy life (St. Francis) to a life of becoming more and more saintly. However, God must appear, must testify for himself as the absolute principle of this love which does not know a Becoming (i.e., a change).
Notabene: I remark here that Prof. Ratzinger in his Christology talks about Christ as Son of God because Christ has perfectly adapted himself to the will of the Father. But by this the principal difference between the fulfillment of Gods will, as the saints strive, and that revelation of the absolute love by and in Jesus Christ is done away with, for Christ is presented as becoming God. By doing so Ratzinger presents himself at least as a semi-Arian (Cf. as well Wigand Siebel: „Zur theologischen Position von Kardinal Ratzinger – Ist Ratzinger ein Arianer?“ in EINSICHT no. 6 of Oct. 2005).
The identity of being and appearing as a formal condition of the desired awareness of the Divinity of Christ which is obtained, from the point of view of content, is found by seeing the absolute “What ought to be” which gives testimony of itself and which reveals itself to me clearly (visibly). Here it also becomes clear why faith is always an act of grace, that is, a free gift of God, His gift which He gives to all those who open (their minds) to Him.
At the same time, this awareness requires being validated cognitively, to which the conviction of faith is affirmed and from which I am now demanded to direct my life.
(EINSICHT of Dec. 2013, no. 4, p. 114-117)