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.

Colossians—word rarities

In my relatively pathetic attempts to unearth important messages in the letter to the Colossians, I’ve come upon some etymological gems.  Here are a few:

  1. mystery (Gk. mysterion) . . . refers simply to something secret that may be, or has been, revealed . . . the mystery among the Gentiles (Col. 1:27) is, quite, simply, the incarnate Christ indwelling them
  2. divinity (Gk. theiotes, Col. 2:9) . . . a word used nowhere else in the NC documents (a similar-but-different one is in Rom. 1:20) . . . often rendered “Godhead,” and that translation seems vague and concocted at best, and deceptive at worst . . . it is not, I would suggest, that the fullness of a three-headed God-monster lives in human form; rather, it is that the fullness of divinity or divine nature is (present tense) (inexplicably, miraculously, cataclysmically!) breathed into Jesus the Christ’s body
  3. elements/principles (Gk. stoicheia, Col. 2:8 and 2:20) . . . a word with the original connotation of a series, row, or rank . . . could imply something like phonemic letters in the alphabet, fundamental elements of creation, rudiments in any area of study or philosophy, or elemental spirits or deities perceived to preside in a region . . . it is this last meaning to which N.T. Wright and other scholars subscribe, which implies that Paul was “pitting” deities against Christ in Col. 2:8, furthering that line of thinking in “principalities and powers” of 2:10 and 2:15
  4. take captive (Gk. sylagogeo, Col. 2:8) . . . an expression that seems to have been mistranslated in every English version available to me . . . oddly, the King James came closest to the meaning, but left out an important word­—for our time, anyway . . . the meaning is “taking spoil or booty,” but the possible word-play is of even more interest, and N.T. Wright has opined that. in using a unique word that’s a single consonant away from “synagogue,” Paul is combating Judaism here more than Gnosticism

Words speak.