Did Jesus claim to be God?


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Elaine (No)

Although worshiped as one-third of the Holy Trinity for millennia, Jesus Christ has never actually claimed to be God, nor should his words be interpreted to mean such. Of the canonical Gospels, only the Gospel of John has been cited as representing Jesus' claim to be God. Indeed, such an important teaching would appear in all the Gospels if it were true. In John, he says, 'Before Abraham was, I am' (John 8:58). However, this has been misinterpreted, as the original text uses the term Yahweh—the self-revealed name of God—to represent I am. So, one could infer that Jesus is saying God or Yahweh existed before Abraham, not that he himself did. Jesus later says, 'I and the Father are one' (John 10:30). Jesus is saying here that he is one with God, not necessarily God, which is a crucial distinction.

Jesus being 'one with God' can be explained, as his 'lost years' have been theorized to include spiritual retreats in far-away lands, where he presumably was exposed to the eastern religious notions of 'oneness.' This mindset is counter to his proclaiming that he is God. Instead, as the Gnostics explain, Jesus contained a divine spark—as every human being does. Through his ministrations and teachings, Jesus was a way-shower to help people remember their divine spark and find the kingdom of God within. As Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels, explains, referring to the Gospel of Thomas (a collection of Jesus' secret teachings witnessed first-hand), ' and Jesus at a deep level are identical are the child of God just as he is.' Finally, Jesus lived when Romans would refer to their most powerful leaders as 'God.' This context reinforces that Jesus' followers made the claim; Jesus did not. 

Suzanne (Yes)

Jesus explicitly claimed to be God throughout the gospels and in many ways, beginning with saying he was the Jewish Messiah. The Messiah was prophesied to be God, who would be born as a son of a virgin and whom His people would pierce. Jesus fulfilled ~300 messianic prophecies. The book of Isaiah is replete with prophecy, stating the Messiah will be called Immanuel (meaning 'God with us') and 'Mighty God, Eternal Father.' Jesus affirmed his deity as this Messiah on several occasions. As a Jew whose entire ministry was extremely Jewish, reflecting Judaism, he claimed these scriptures were about him and that he came to fulfill the Jewish law. He even forgave sins and accepted worship and others’ recognition of him as God. When Jesus said, 'I and the Father are one,' and prayed God would glorify him 'with the glory that I had with You before the world existed,' he knew exactly what he was communicating: there is only one God, and only God is to be glorified. He was not confusing the Jewish belief in one God with Eastern 'oneness.' In boldly applying the name of God revealed to Moses ('I AM') to himself, he declared his identity was the same as the God existing before Abraham. The Jews picked up stones to execute him for such 'blasphemy.' Jesus didn't learn how to blaspheme against the God of Israel by traveling to India to learn Eastern mysticism in any 'lost years.' Those unsubstantiated theories are negated by the historical accounts that he grew up in Nazareth, was taught in the synagogue, and was known as Joseph's son. True Christians have always trusted in who Jesus says he is; it’s a mistake for those who don’t study the scriptures daily to believe he never did.

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