Your favorite selections on the deity of Jesus Christ

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by monoergon, Sep 15, 2018.

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  1. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    I made this thread because I would like for the PB community to select your favorite citations/quotes/selections on the subject of the deity of Jesus Christ, especially those written by the puritans and church fathers, and share them here.

    Please inform the source.

    Here is one of my selections, which I just recently read for the first time:

    "If God be of an eternal duration, then "Christ is God." Eternity is the property of God, but it is ascribed to Christ: "He is before all things" (Col. i. 17), i.e. all created things; he is therefore no creature, and if no creature, eternal. "All things were created by him," both in heaven and in earth, angels, as well as men, whether they be thrones or dominions (ver. 16). If all things were his creatures, then he is no creature; if he were, all things were not created by him, or he must create himself He hath no difference of time; for he is "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever:"[r] the same, with the name of God, "I Am," which signifies his eternity. He is no more to-day than he was yesterday, nor will be any other to-morrow than he is to-day; and therefore Melchizedec, whose descent, birth, and death, father and mother, beginning and end of days, are not upon record, was a type of the existence of Christ without difference of time; "Having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God" (Heb. vii. 3). [...]"

    [r] Heb xiii. 8. Rev. i. 8. "He which is, and which was, and which is to come."
    Source: Stephen Charnock. Discourses upon the existence and attributes of God. p. 293.
  2. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    St. Maximus the Confessor "The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ"
    Cyril of Alexandria "On the Unity of Christ" and "Commentary on John" 2 volumes in the IVP Ancient Christian Texts series.
    Gregory Nazianzen "Theological Orations"
    St. Athanasius "On the Incarnation"
    "Light on the Mountain: Patristic Homilies on the Transfiguration of the Lord"
    This series is really well done. The books also look beautiful on my bookshelves, minus the dust jackets. Specifically volumes 2 & 3

    I will browse my Schaff Church Fathers set tomorrow to pull some more Patristic works.

    Mostly Puritans:
    Edward Reynold's Works Volume 2: "An Exposition of the Hundred and Tenth Psalm" or the "Exaltation of Christ."
    William Bridge Works volume 1:"The Priesthood of Christ"
    Thomas Manton Works volume 2:"A Practical Exposition of the Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah"
    James Durham "Christ Crucified" or "72 Sermons on Isaiah 53"
    John Owen "The Priesthood of Christ" and "The Glory of Christ"
    Hugh Martin "Christ for Us"
    Ralph Robinson "Christ All in All"
    Wilhelmus à Brakel's Christian's Reasonable Service volume 1 is excellent on Christ.

    Also, sorry here are links. It is late and I don't have time to write out all of these:

    Those are from a quick browse of my library. I will try to add more tomorrow and pull some quotes that have stood out to me.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
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  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Long, but good.

    John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ, Sermon 1

    Let us consider now what Saint John says. “In the beginning” (says he) “was the Word.” And where was this beginning? In God. And what is the beginning of God? There is none. Otherwise God would have to be a creature of our imagination. Thus when mention is made of the beginning of God, we must conclude that it is a beginning which has no time element in it. It is well, then, to compare the passage of Moses where it says that God created everything in the beginning and this passage which says, “The Word was in the beginning.” For Moses deals with creatures which began to be at a certain time. Here St. John speaks only of God, who cannot be without His eternity. We must, then, conclude that this beginning has no beginning. So we see that Jesus Christ always was. That is how Saint John said that Jesus Christ is our eternal God, Who appeared to us in the flesh, as also Saint Paul speaks of it. Next he adds, “this Word was with God,” as if he said that we must separate the Word from all creatures. That is the intention of the Gospel-writer. We must not (says he) imagine that this Word has had something like creatures. We must withdraw from the world. We must ascend above earth and heaven when we think of this Word. One might perhaps ask, “Before there was heaven or earth was it possible that this Word was in the beginning?” Saint John, then, in answer separates this Word from all creatures. He might have said, “When I speak to you of this Word, you must come to God, for He is in God.” Let us regard Him, then, as an Eternity Who belongs neither to creatures, nor to heaven nor to earth, nor to anything which may exist.

    Nevertheless, the Gospel here makes a distinction between God and His Word. What is this distinction? It is not a distinction of essence. For he always means that this Word is God. And we must conclude, since we have only one God, and there is only one simple essence in Him, that Jesus Christ, this Eternal Word here spoken of, was not different from God His Father. Yet there is always some distinction. What is it? Now because we cannot comprehend what is so high above all our intelligence and reason, ancient Teachers have used the word “Persons.” They said that in God there were three persons, not as if we speak in ordinary language calling three men three persons, or as in the Papacy they even have the audacity to paint three grotesque pictures, and behold the Trinity! But the word “Persons” in this connection is to express the properties which are of the essence of God. The word “Substance” or (as the Greeks say) “Hypostasis” is still more suitable since it is from Holy Scripture. The Apostle uses it in the first chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews when he says that Jesus Christ is the living image, and the splendor of the glory, the image of the substance of God His Father. When he speaks there of the substance of God, he does not mean the essence. He speaks of this property which belongs to the Father: namely, that He is the Source of all things.

    Now let us look at these three Hypostases, as they are called. Let us see how they agree, as much as God teaches us, as I have already said. For we must not exceed these limits, and let us pay as much attention to that as will be required for the exposition of this passage. When one speaks of God, surely men themselves are confused and do not know how to imagine Him without being led astray in their imaginations, as says Saint Paul. So it comes that they were given to too much pride for their prudence and wisdom. Yet God punishes them in such a way that they find themselves in such horrible labyrinths that they cannot get out. But when we allow God to lead us to Himself by Holy Scripture, we shall know how much God will be our Helper. For we shall come to the Father as to the source of all things. Then we shall not be able to conceive of the Father without His Counsel and Eternal Wisdom. Then there will be a virtue which resides in Him which we shall also sense clearly. That is how we shall find these three properties in the essence of God.

    This is what Saint John meant by the expression “The Word was with God.” If there were not any distinction, he would not speak thus. For it would be speaking improperly to say, “God was with Himself.” So we know that this Word has some distinction from the Heavenly Father. For this Word was begotten before time, even though God always had His plan and His wisdom. However, we must not imagine any beginning. For we must not say that God was without judgment, without plan, and wisdom. So, we must not put apart and separate from God the Property of this Word by saying that we judge that there was some time when He was not with Him. For this would make Him an idol. But as I have said, the Three are only One, and yet we must distinguish Them, since there is a definite distinction, as is here shown. However, it reminds us of a sentence of an ancient teacher, which is well worthy to be remembered, because it is excellent.

    “I cannot,” says he, “think upon these three properties which are shown me in God unless immediately my mind reduces them to one. On the other hand, it is impossible for me to know one only God unless I regard all the three properties, and I see them distinguished by my sense according to the clarity that is given me in Holy Scripture.” That is how believers will know God. Knowing the Father, they will know His wisdom, which is this Word which is here spoken of. They will come more and more to this power which we have discussed. When they have known these three things, they will no longer go astray either this way or that way, but they will come to this sole essence — to know that there is only one God, even only one God who has so created the world that He has omitted nothing of all that was required to accomplish our redemption. That is what we must note with respect to what is said, that this Word was with God. That is, the Gospel-writer wished to separate Jesus Christ from all creatures. However, he showed us the distinction between Him and the Father.

    Now he adds “This Word was God” to express still better what he wished to indicate, that Jesus Christ is not a created thing Who had a beginning, but He is our true God. This passage has been poorly understood by some. Someone has foolishly translated it, saying, “God is the Word.” For if we said that God was the Word, the Father would no longer be God and the Holy Spirit would no longer be God. But St. John wished on the contrary to say that the Word is God, as if he said that Jesus Christ is, with respect to His Deity, of one same essence with the Father. Thus he does not exclude the Father from the Deity, but he shows that there is only one essence in God. Although there was a distinction of God from His Word, yet we must always come back to this simple proposition, that They are one God Whom we must adore. To be sure, ancient heretics have worked hard to pervert this passage so as not to be constrained to confess that Jesus Christ was our true God. But we see here that St. John speaks so clearly of the eternity of this Word that there is no place for shuffling or subterfuge.

    Next he adds, “This Word was in the beginning with God.” He had not said these two words together. He had said, “This Word was in the beginning” and “He was with God.” Now he joins the two together. That is why we must so contemplate Jesus Christ that we do not estimate that He is not true God and of the same essence with the Father. He has, to be sure, been created with respect to His human nature, but we must go further to know Him as our eternal God, Who is in such a manner our God that He is the wisdom of His Father which has been with God from all time. That, then, is the summary of it. Now when we remember this exposition (as it is simply expressed) it will suffice to instruct us for our salvation. Surely it is all we need to know about it.

    Thus, since all things were made by His Word, we must know that He is our eternal God. There are some heretics who imagine that the Word of God had a beginning at the creation of the world, because the Word was never spoken of until the world was created. As Moses says, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light,” etc. They wish to infer by that that the Word began then. Really? On the contrary, we must rather conclude from that that the Word is eternal. For if a man begins to do something, that does not say that he did not previously exist.
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  4. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I've read the book by Maximus probably a dozen times. Same with Gregory.
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    I've enjoyed your discussions of Maximus on the PB.
  6. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Wonderful! I hope to read most of those works this year and the next. Thanks!
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Thanks. I learned the hard-way. I was a young Reformed pup and tried to debate the leading Eastern Orthodox apologist. It was....ugly. I then learned I had to master the material, and the only way to do that was to read all the Oxford monographs on Maximus.
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It's also important to remember that we aren't trying to find works that say Jesus was God after all. The important thing is to enter into the grammar and mindset of these early thinkers. Why did they say Jesus was divine is almost as important as that they said he was.

    I also recommend anything by Richard Bauckham and Larry Hurtado.
  9. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for those recommendations. If you can, you can post here a selection arguing for the deity of Christ.
  10. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for that quote; I had never read it. It was worth it.
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I don't have any ready quotes. I think the real issue is the methodological presuppositions.

    Most of the people who deny Jesus' deity have to also deny his pre-existence. That's the key. If I can prove that God had a Logos and that Logos is Jesus, or at least that the NT writers thought he was Jesus, then the case is open and shut.

    The smart critics deny his pre-existence.

    It's also good to get a handle on what "God" or "deity" or "divine" mean.
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  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    A quote from an unusual source (Francis de Sales, A Treatise on the Love of God, III.12):

    It shall see clearly then, shall this understanding, the infinite knowledge which God the Father had from all eternity of His own beauty, for the expression of which in Himself, He pronounced and said eternally the Word, the Verbum, or the most singular and most infinite speech and diction, which, comprising and representing all the perfection of the Father, can be but one same God, entirely one with Him, without division or separation. We shall thus then see that eternal and admirable generation of the Divine Word and Son, by which He was eternally born to the image and likeness of the Father, a lively and natural image and likeness, not representing any accidents or external thing; since in God all is substance, nor can there be any accident, all is interior, nor can there be any exterior; but an image representing the proper substance of the Father so perfectly, so naturally, so essentially and substantially, that therefore it can be no other thing than the same God with Him, without distinction or difference at all either in essence or substance, and with only the distinction of Persons. For how could this Divine Son be the true, truly perfect and truly natural image, resemblance and figure of the infinite beauty and substance of the Father, if this image did not represent absolutely to the life and according to nature, the infinite perfections of the Father? And how could it infinitely represent infinite perfections if it were not itself infinitely perfect? And how could it be infinitely perfect if it were not God, and how could it be God if it were not one same God with the Father?

    This Son then, the infinite image and figure of His infinite Father, is with His Father one sole, most unique, and infinite God, there being no difference of substance between Them, but only the distinction of persons. This distinction of persons, as it is certainly required, so also it is absolutely sufficient, to effect that the Father pronounces, and the Son is the Word pronounced; that the Father speaks, and the Son is the Word, or the diction; that the Father expresses, and the Son is the image, likeness or figure expressed, and, in short, that the Father is Father, and the Son, Son—two distinct persons, but one only Essence or Divinity; so that God Who is sole is not solitary, for He is sole in His most singular and simple Deity, yet is not solitary, because He is Father and Son in two persons. O Theotimus, what joy, what jubilee to celebrate this eternal birth, kept in the brightness of the Saints, to celebrate it in seeing it, and to see it in celebrating it!
  13. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    I always liked his younger, shorter brother, Minimus.
  14. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Thomas answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” - Apostle of the Lord

    Sorry... I had to put that in there.
  15. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritanboard Colporteur

    I would definitely point you to Cyril of Alexandria's two volume commentary on the Gospel of John in IVP's Ancient Christian Text series. Much of his commentary is spent defending the deity of Christ against the many false teachings of his time.
    I would also highly recommend IVP's Ancient Christian Doctrine volume two and three to see a wide scope of Patristic thoughts on the deity of Christ. They are excellent. I was hoping to have time to post quotes but my day was booked up.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2018
  16. monoergon

    monoergon Puritan Board Freshman

    Samuel Rutherford - Fourteen Communion Sermons, p. 20-21 (link)

    “And His name is called the Word of God.”—The word is the birth of a man’s mind, and an image of what is conceived in the understanding; and it represents to the hearers what is in the mind. Now, because man is a finite creature, the birth of his mind is finite also. As the image of a man in a glass represents the likeness of himself; so his words are the image of his soul, representing what is in him. Christ is the infinite and eternal Word of the invisible God, not only like Him, but God Himself, differing only in manner of subsisting from God, “Who is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). “He that hath seen Christ, hath seen the Father also. No man hath seen the Father at any time, save the Son who is in the bosom of the Father, and He to whom He will reveal Him: All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Christ is God’s tongue (to speak so) to us, betwixt us and our King. He is privy to all the Father’s secrets; then, would you have news from that great Court, and want to know the secrets of God, and how the work of your salvation thrives? Christ only knows His Father’s mind; make your acquaintance with Christ, and be oft with Him, and ask Him questions often times. He keeps the book where the names of the first-born are recorded; desire Him to let you read your name there. Ye will advise with lawyers, about your lands and inheritances; Christ is our advocate, and has our law-book, to tell us what a holding we have, what duty we owe to our Lord the King; what a fair rent and possession we have. Our inheritance is made sure unto us. Now, because Christ is the only one in all the world likest God, and being His substantial image, yea, being very God, if ye would send your commendations, your love, and services to your heavenly Father, desire Christ to do it, and He will carry them. If ye send a kiss to God by Christ, He will carry it to His Father and your Father."
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