Garrett on Jesus’ nature

In his May 2014 essay “Jesus:  Flesh and Spirit,” spiritual philosopher Leroy Garrett has written such provocative statements as these:

I am not a traditional Trinitarian. I do not believe that Jesus was God, who according to James 1:13 cannot be tempted. . . .

The Logos was “equal with God” but he emptied himself and became human. In doing so he became Son of God, but not God. This is why our Lord resisted being called God:  . . .

But there remains abundant mystery to the relationship between Jesus and God, . . .

Find the complete essay here.

Leroy Garrett, probably 20+ years ago
Leroy Garrett, probably 20+ years ago

I have for a couple dozen years questioned the Trinity idea.  It appears to be a humanly devised concept.  As Garrett has said, roughly, noting that “Trinity” is not a scripture term, “I don’t claim something that the scriptures themselves don’t claim.”  For my part, I have never found a scripture passage that says “God is made of up of precisely three parts, and their names are ____, _____, and _____.”  Since I haven’t unearthed such an assertion in scripture, I resist asserting threeness myself.

Back to the particular essay referred to above.  In dealing with Jesus’ nature, Garrett doesn’t feel the need to differentiate overtly between “Christ” and “Jesus,” yet he does do that if one reads closely.  On this point, I also track with Garrett.

My own suspicion — and it is only a suspicion — is that there is a “part” (whatever that means) of God (mystery that He is) that has always existed (whatever that means) and became a “Son” (in some sense).  “The Word” (whatever that signifies) is identified with “the Son” in John’s gospel, and Jesus is clearly “the only Son” there.  The divine mystery includes some sense the binary nature of Jesus/Word/Son/Christ.  It seems to me that “Jesus” — and probably “Son of Man,” too — might fairly be used to designate the time-bound, mortal existence of the divine “Son.”

In that the nature of God defies numbering and naming, it appears to be a mystery.

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12 thoughts on “Garrett on Jesus’ nature

  1. Steve Kell 07/18/2014 / 4:20 pm

    1 Timothy 3:16! Reminds me of a discussion I had a couple of weeks ago with a lady at work who has a teenage son that attended a church camp this summer. He came home telling his mom she has taught him all wrong about the Bible. So I asked if she would like to chat over lunch and look at some of his questions. The firsts one out of the box: Was Jesus God? What is the Trinity? “Really?”–I thought…that’s where we start?? (sigh) I asked her if she liked mysteries and when she nodded ‘yes,’ I then proceeded with trepidation to try and offer some thoughts that might prove helpful about something I do not understand. I hope the Spirit translated my ignorance into something meaningful.

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    • Brian Casey 07/19/2014 / 8:07 am

      That conversation must have surprised and intrigued the people at the table next to you, the server, etc. Trepidation is a good quality for an ambassador, it seems to me. Maybe the most wonderful admission of all is that we do not understand. Thanks for sharing this, Steve.

      On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 4:20 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 07/19/2014 / 8:13 am

      BTW, check out this hot-off-press International Standard Version rendering of 1Tim 3:16. It happens to fit metrically with their rendition of Phil 2:6-11, which has been discussed here before, a few weeks ago (“Old Christian Hymns”):

      16 By common confession, the secret of our godly worship is great:

      In flesh was he revealed to sight,
      kept righteous by the Spirit’s might,
      adored by angels singing.

      To nations was he manifest,
      believing souls found peace and rest,
      our Lord in heaven reigning!

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    • Steve Kell 07/19/2014 / 11:07 am

      I’m expecting you to put some music to that nice interpretation soon!

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    • godschildrenorg 07/19/2014 / 3:54 pm

      I typically read your blog after my day is done…and stay up even later to respond. I’ll respond further about the other comments another day. But I have to say that I’m with Steve on waiting for you to put that lovely verse to music. 😉 ~~ Anne in Transylvania

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    • Brian Casey 07/20/2014 / 12:18 pm

      I’d read Steve’s words yesterday and just read yours today, Anne. Hmmm. Transylvanians and Texans come together in spirit? (Actually, you’re both Texans.) I don’t know whether this constitutes a conspiracy, a move of God, or a semi-coincidental encouragement to me to get involved in something semi-worthwhile. 🙂

      I’ve started improvising and setting this. Not sure whether I should attempt to combine the two (Philippians 2 and 1Tim 3)…. We’ll see what does, or doesn’t, come out. Thank you both.

      On Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 3:54 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • godschildrenorg 07/20/2014 / 3:12 pm

      You say you often experience Him as silent…who was it that said, “in the silence, I found God;”…in the hurry of this life, we often have so much static that we cannot “hear” Him…yet we can trust that He is with us…we can…He’s still growing us, improving the vessel…but never tossing us in the discard bin.~~ Anne in Transylvania

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    • Brian Casey 07/20/2014 / 8:39 pm

      I was encouraged by these words from you. Thank you for continuing to take the time to affirm and encourage. (Incidentally, the Gk. for “encourage” or “exhort” or “comfort” was on the quiz I just took tonight.)

      The words I think you are referring to are anonymous, and you may know the song my mom wrote that included them. I’m not sure if this will come through in a comment, but I’m trying paste it in here. (It didn’t work, so I’m editing the comment and pasting in the words only.)

      In silence comes all loveliness; the dawn is ever still.
      No noise accompanies the dew that glistens on the hill.
      The sunrise comes up quietly; the moon is never heard.
      And love that animates the eye surpasses any word.
      And prayer is best in solitude; it seems so very odd
      That long before I did not know in silence I’d find God.
      © 1962 Bettye Ritchie Casey. All rights reserved.

      On Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 3:12 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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    • Brian Casey 07/20/2014 / 12:13 pm

      I was thinking about that and trying to put it out of my mind, but you haven’t let me. So, I’ve just begun the process. No promises, though. 🙂

      On Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  2. godschildrenorg 07/18/2014 / 5:01 pm

    The Great Mystery! Quite thought provoking, interesting, but will remain one of those things we do not have an answer for. In my simple way of thinking, it’s enough for me to believe there is God my Creator/Father, Jesus/Word/Son of Man/Christ, and the Holy Spirit/Comforter/Counselor. How helpful it’d be to dwell on those thoughts instead of allowing ourselves to lie awake worrying about how WE are going to solve our problems. God is always with us regardless of the names we decide to accept for Him. He even helps us when we’re not aware…however, His name is not “Luck, or Coincidence.” ~~ Anne in Transylvania, Romania

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    • Brian Casey 07/19/2014 / 8:10 am

      When you say “it is enough for me,” 2/3 of me envies you, and 1/3 of me is less than satisfied. I don’t worry about this Trinity thing, really, other than to be inquisitive when people insist or assume they have God all figured out. I’m not saying you are “insisting” or “assuming” at all, by the way. Yours is a quiet sort of trust, built over years of serving and loving the Mysterious One. Inspirational. I don’t think of Him as “Luck,” either, but I often experience Him as silent.

      On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:01 PM, NT Christianity wrote:

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  3. godschildrenorg 07/21/2014 / 9:52 am

    How tender are the words of your mother’s song…brings to mind that some of God’s most amazing creativity steals quietly upon the scene…provokes many other thoughts about human need for attention if no one notices our performance, uniqueness. Time and again, The Written Word praises God. We are made in His image…it’s okay for us to accept honest praise for good things we do…and it’s certainly helpful to give praise…sincere praise for a kind word spoken, or a job well done. ~~ Anne in Transylvania

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