The Question remains: Is Jesus Christ the Son of God?
“What we are born with, we must make our own, or it remains a mere appurtenance.”
Goethe: “Faust” Part 1 (Night).”
If one thing particularly stands out in the spirituality of the Christian world today, it is the arbitrariness of the position and substance, even though there is seemingly a formal relationship between the divergent faiths. Frequently these positions are rather contradictory from the point of view of substance. Knowing this is the only way one can understand how the post-Conciliar effort for a syncretic one-size-fits-all religion is able to expand in an otherwise secularized world.
In a totally different direction, an intolerant Islam expands. Already in Germany it has started to aggressively call for its rights in public life and brutally expresses its dominance by persecuting the Christians there where it has the power, allowing to arise no doubt about the justification of its own fundamentalist positions. So it is necessary for an uncompromising Christianity to absolutely justify itself by asserting and appreciating itself if it is going to win in this religious battle.
This is why we want to continue dealing with this issue which is not an arbitrary matter but a question that has been asked already several times and that is whether the claim made about Jesus Christ by faithful Catholics is true. It is the claim that Jesus Christ is truly God: He Who is presented in the New Testament and by the Church as the Son of God, Who revealed Himself to mankind as God. Further, this claim is justifiable by and in the mind. Of this, Jesus Christ spoke of Himself as such when He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14, 6)
Even if the memory of the pictures of May 26th, 2014, which showed Bergoglio/Francis, while visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, embracing a Jewish Rabbi and a Muslim Imam may have been forgotten because of the horrible pictures shown every day of the horror Israel commits towards the Palestinians in the Gaza area, the provocation of Bergoglio stays relevant. Have not Bergoglio/Francis and his predecessors John Paul II/Wojtyla and Benedict XVI/Ratzinger been the far-sighted prophets, who in spite of all the present divergences in opinion and the bloody persecutions of the Christians on the part of the Islamists – which indeed have not been denied nor can be denied by these key leaders– foresee a union of all three major (revealed) religions (Jewish, Christian and Islam) and for which they are striving to obtain (while still pretending to be the earthly representatives of Him Who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life? And, is not it true, as we state, that these (three) religions radically exclude one another in even the very question of what kind of person Jesus Christ is in their writings? Historically, one can remark here that since the French revolution, which was inspired by German Illuminati, the belief that God is revealed in Jesus Christ has been rejected. The revolution was to overthrow throne and altar and the battle continues now in which the so-called Catholic Church has taken the lead since Vatican II. In this situation it is why the question of the recognizability of Jesus Christ as Son of God has importance for human history, as discussed in the last issue of our magazine.
This problem could be solved as follows: If in that which tradition offers one can find a moment which shows one insight into the divinity of Christ, then this insight would radically exclude every other religious approach. It would mean that Mohammed is the greatest false prophet; and it would mean the Jews who still believe in the coming of the messiah – these people would still have a religious aim which could be taken seriously – one could say they are waiting forever in vain for their messiah to come. For the One they are waiting for has already fulfilled His earthly mission 2000 years ago and is now sitting “at the right of God”. So if it came to light that God became flesh in Jesus Christ, this would mean at the same time that all other religious confessions were subjective propositions and that acknowledging these false beliefs (as true) on the part of Christianity expresses apostasy.
I will try to address this quandary once again as questions have arisen which have made clear to me the difficulty my readers have in understanding the solution. So I will again present what has already been dealt with in order to explain it again in other words.
The question of the recognizability of Christ as Son of God brings up three complexities together:
1. Clarification of the concept of God (philosophical)
2. How can it be shown that Christ is the Son of God?
3. How is the Mystery of the Trinity to be understood, i. e. the question of the relationship of God and the divine incarnation: being God and man at the same time
a) God in appearance (manifestation)
b) God in transcendence
c) God between immanence and transcendence
When solving the specific problem of religious philosophy I assume that the philosophical concept of God according to which God is the absolute good/true and Who is absolutely self-sufficient, Who is pure spirit, Who is the true original cause of all being is valid and answered, for the existence of God is admitted by all sides. What is debated is the question whether Jesus Christ is the absolutely true God to whom “all knees must bend.”
It is important to show:
1. That this concept of God is applicable to the Person of Jesus Christ and
2. That there is a moment contained in the traditions which admits the identity of the concept of God to the historical Person of the Son of God.
Now one can proceed as follows: by transferring the philosophically acquired concept of God, the absolute bonum et verum to the image of Jesus Christ as witnessed by the Church (Scripture and Tradition) in order to determine if the concept and the historical presentation correspond. If the comparison is accurate, i.e. the person of Jesus Christ corresponds to the requirements which the concept (of God) makes, then we can say that the Person of Jesus Christ can be of Divine Nature, because the criteria for this are fulfilled: As Christ fulfills the characteristic features of the absolute, He is God. The problem here is that this being God is already revealed. It could not be said that He – Christ – is the only and true Son of God of whom alone His being the Son of God can and may be thought. Could not other historical persons, too, fulfill these criteria which are put forward for claiming to be God? Could one not notice for example a complete holy will in St. Francis, too, which would be sufficient for the requirements of holiness in a divine sense? Well, one could say: He also had deficiencies in His will, on the other hand he had counted on the example of Christ, he was only an emulator, that is why we have to come back to the model (Christ) again. But one could refer to Mary of whom it is said that she has stayed impeccable. But she says of herself: “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord.” (Lk. 1, 38) Yet another problem remains: Christs being God was only deduced in that: it is only the identity of image (conception of the absolute) and being (the historical, witnessed life of Jesus). The question of the singularity and uniqueness of Christ – as He is presented to us would not necessarily be solved satisfactorily.
Normally we have our Christian religion conveyed to us by the education given in our parental home, by school, by the media and the church, so according to the tradition which our parents, the school and other participants in our religious education have experienced in their lives as well. In this Christ has been presented to us as the Son of God as a central point. In the Bible we could absorb the stories of His life and death and even His ascension. And from that tradition – Scripture and Tradition – from these sources we made within ourselves an image of the Son of God and His requirements concerning the forming of our lives in holiness. But like us, so were all the other members of other religions, the Jews, the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoist (philosophy at the same time) – each were taught their religious traditions, too.
Therefore, what justifies us to say that we follow the religion which has the one, true God as its purpose, and Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and why do we negate this absolute claim to other religions?
The problem which needs to be solved here presents the following difficulty: On one hand we have got the material for the answer to our question which has been conveyed to us in Tradition and Scripture via the different institutions – church, parental home, school, media. By tradition I mean all that which has been passed down to us outside the Bible by direct, interpersonal relationships since the days of Christ on earth about His will and the manifestations of His will. On the other hand I cannot just uncritically adopt the treasure of knowledge conveyed by tradition without being a victim of a simple fideism, even if most faithful do so. The members of other religions do mostly adopt their traditions uncritically, too.
So one must do what Goethe requires in “Faust”: “What we are born with, we must make our own, or it remains a mere appurtenance.” So the treasure conveyed by tradition must not simply be adopted, but it has to convince us by its substance, so that we can and are supposed to conform our lives and our world with this conviction.
I want to respond to a possible misunderstanding. What we want to try here is to show the conditions of the intellect to grasp the divinity of Christ. This does not mean, however, that by this the divinity of Jesus Christ has already been recognized. If I tell someone: If you look at this and that, you will see this and that. If this person does not look at it, he will not see anything. For the intellect the steps shown need to be made by oneself.
I need to make two reservations here. Someone could object to the idea that we have to adopt everything which the Church (as authority) requires us to be believe (in trust to the justification of the institution). As the Church itself gets its authority in the Person of Christ, we need to defer its claim of authority until we have clarified the question of the divinity of Christ.
A second objection might be: The Bible is a Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost, that is why we can adopt its contents without hesitation. But before its inspiration is accepted, one must ask by what authority can one declare it to be inspired? Finding the answer cannot be left aside. However, this does not mean that we cannot do Biblical research (exegetical and historical). For the insights regarding the exact meaning of His statements and of the circumstances of His life – I am thinking here of the study by Josef Binzler „Der Prozess Jesu“ – lead us much further – in context with other events. On the other hand we have to clarify why we give the Bible as source of divine inspiration basically a different status than the biographies of other great personalities, where exemplary characters can also be presented to us.
The (mere) traditional knowledge – Scripture and Tradition – certainly give us a thorough knowledge about and of the person of Jesus Christ, similar to other historical testimonies as well, but they do not lay a basis by themselves (as mere tradition) to be able to say with conviction, that He is the “Word Incarnate“ (John 1, 1 ff.)
I had already written:
“In 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).” (EINSICHT 43/3)
By tradition I mean handing down the will of Christ in His deeds and words, which the Apostles then adopted in the Imitation of Christ: “He who hears you, hears me; and he who despises you, despises me; but he who despises me despises him who sent me.” (Lk. 10, 16)
About this beginning moment (becomes self-evident) – by this I mean a moment which shows its validity and its justification from itself and which must show in the description, that is, the remarks of Jesus – I had explained further: “This must on the one hand be grounded in tradition, but on the other hand it has to exceed it. It must show its own worth from itself as absolutely valid, with regard to form and content. (...) “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 needs to 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 he, who I am.” “Ego sum, qui sum” (Ex. 3, 14) (EINSICHT 43/4)
How must this self-evident moment show itself, so that I may attribute the influence of recognition? Expressed differently, what must or what can captivate and fascinate us so much about the narrative of the life of Christ that I cannot but help attribute to this moment an absolute character as an originally absolute setting?
It needs to reveal its absolute character, thus showing itself of itself. It needs to appear as (...) what ought to be, a demand to be which reveals itself to me as a person. It needs to appear, to show itself as it ought to be and it ought to be as it appears. Ought and appearance must be identical. It does not need to be a mere demand but it should contain its own justification which at the same time turns to me as addressing a demand to be, at the same time this obliges me to adopt and fulfill within myself.
It needs to appear unmistakably as an absolute, not as relative absolute – with the meaning that one sees that there is indeed an absolute origin which is not connected to a (former) conveyance, i.e. it must show itself in a way that its originality, its setting can be understood as an original setting. It must not appear as something which already appears in a succession of the originally absolute. (Cf. Ratzinger: “Christ is the Son of God, because he perfectly fulfills the will of the father” – that would be a process through time! – rather He is the Son of God because He is perfection Himself, which does not become, but which shows, reveals, itself throughout time.)
So we need to find another criterion which justifies us to speak of Christ as the Son of God. If there is to be such a criterion, it needs to be found within the treasure of faith conveyed to us by tradition, but also surpasses it.
So we still need to answer the question: which act of Christ satisfies this absolute claim. This is to be done by an examination that will follow.
(EINSICHT of Aug. 2014, no. 3, p. 69-73)