The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

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The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by AmyJ » 06 Jun 2018, 12:55

As part of my Pathways assignment this week, we were asked 2 questions:

1. Why it is important for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to know, understand, and believe that Jesus Christ was the Only Begotten Son of God, the Eternal Father?
2. Which scriptures help you better understand the significance of the divine birth of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God, the Eternal Father?

Neither of the questions is particularly meaningful for me personally, but I wanted to put out there one of the thoughts I included in the assignment for discussion.

Matthew 1: 23
..."they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

To me, the concept of God being with us - understanding the mortal experience is important. I am not so sure that I need it to be a literal physical existence, or whether it actually happened the way that the scriptures said it did. I am not even sure if it happened on any level yet - but I want to believe (I think). I really liked wayfarer's thoughts form the temple recommend thread, so I included his quote here.
wayfarer wrote:
04 Jul 2012, 18:02
After I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I really don't know, and that is ok. There is a difference between not knowing as "I haven't decided", versus deciding that I don't know and that's ok.

There are so many things in the church for which I have decided I don't know, and I believe that is the correct and honest answer. I really don't know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. I will never know this. He had amazing moments of inspiration, but he also was profoundly flawed. I have faith that he was enough of a prophet to restore aspects of Christianity that were profoundly missing. So I have faith in and a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, but I do not know.

Likewise on Jesus Christ, there are many aspects of the literal story that don't make sense, but for me, he is the anointed savior, and I don't need to know many aspects of his life and ontology besides that.

I think the challenge in being sufficiently faithful to "pass" a temple recommend interview is making the decision and being confident about that decision, even if the decision is "I don't know". Faith is expressly a lack of knowledge.

I don't know if life goes beyond this existence. If it does, then Christ rising from the dead is important, for his resurrection proved somehow that resurrection can come to us as well. But I don't know any of that, because none of the records are truly reliable as evidence. Nor also is the warm and fuzzy feeling we get. It's all faith.

Given that, I find a symbolic message in Christ that works for me here and now-- makes my life meaningful. This is what I find in the amazing ontology of "I AM", and the idea of unity with all that is. This is what Christ is for me--and the idea of resurrection, if it comes, is a bonus I don't count on.

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by AmyJ » 06 Jun 2018, 13:21

I am adding this too from the Mormon Atheism thread...
wayfarer wrote:
05 Sep 2012, 21:01
But when we read John, in the beginning there was logos, and logos was made flesh and dwelt among us. In John 10, Jesus is challenging the jews on why they insist on stoning him. I mean, he just said something quite remarkable:
John 10:30-33 wrote:I and my Father are one.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
This was extraordinarily offensive: Jesus equated himself with god. "Shema Ysrael, YWHW Eloheinu YHWH ECHAD". Jesus would have invoked a similar concept to the Shema -- that he was ECHAD with the Father, a replacement word for YHWH. ECHAD is one, but more than that, it implies perfect unity among many; yet the Jews had re-interpreted ELOHIM to be singular even if it is grammatically plural, therefore there could be no being ECHAD/One with God. This rabbinical interpretation was false, as Jesus was about to point out:
John 10:34-36 wrote:Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
This verse and the meaning of it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission. An explicit definition by Christ that he is the Son of God. But moreso, he says that there was a more extreme statement of being god in Psalms 82, speaking to the Judges in Israel:
Psalms 82:1-6 wrote:God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
As god judges among the gods, so also should the earthly judges judge righteously -- they are 'gods' to the poor, needy, fatherless, and the afflicted. It's an explicit definition that those who do the work of gods are gods.

And if there were any question, Jesus equates himself as ECHAD with God and says that we too are to be ECHAD with him, with each other, and with god's power. This all is in John 17. Not that we would become gods of our own little worlds, but that through our unity through the holy spirit, we could become one with god in serving and loving our fellow beings.

We look way too far away for who god is. We look for god to bail us out of our problems, and yes, he will, and he will in the form of others who are listening to the spirit, being aware of needs, and serving each other. God is not the other, outside of humanity. The innovation of the Restored Gospel was to understand, somehow, that god was really one of us. or maybe better said, one with us. Once we let go of the magical, impossible god of our Christian understanding, and come to the realization of I AM: a being that is one with the power of the universe, with the Way, is no more or less god in that very moment and state of being one. This, to me, is the atonement -- to be at one with god, here, now. To be in the middle of our eternal lives -- to seek not for something yet to come, but to seek to bless those around us in ways so needed.

I don't care if I get called atheist, agnostic, whatever. it doesn't matter: i have seen the act of god happen when someone out of the blue does an act of kindness; I have felt the premonition to do something in a moment, to help another person, and I have no Idea why I did it. It's glorious. It's humbling. it's momentary, but it's eternal and sublime.

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by Heber13 » 06 Jun 2018, 14:31

wayfarer wrote: i have seen the act of god happen when someone out of the blue does an act of kindness; I have felt the premonition to do something in a moment, to help another person, and I have no Idea why I did it. It's glorious. It's humbling. it's momentary, but it's eternal and sublime.
I like this idea, and like the idea of love that is eternal.

But it seems to stray from the question of the divine role of Jesus, if what we are embracing is an internal god that helps us connect to love others, and that love is all an internal reliance on ourselves to learn to love others more (unless I'm missing the full meaning of the words quoted above, but that was what I kinda got out of it...internal focus to find god, not external figure as our god).

So...these are interesting questions to wrestle with.

Why do we need a savior? Because God said so? Because prophets said God said so? Is that all there is to it and the Plan of Salvation?

Does the plan of salvation still work if we can just embrace the essence of wayfarer's words and believe that the ideal is what we strive for, and forgive others as we hope to be forgiven?

My theory is that we cannot fully understand things if we just embrace "Love others and try to be nice." That might help us be a better person, but may not be sufficient.

When we acknowledge our own nothingness and accept we cannot succeed without help from an outside source...then we are opening our mind to a new outlook on our existence and take things to another level we cannot achieve if we trust ourselves to just try to do better on our own. We cannot fully understand how to love others or forgive others. We cannot fully develop empathy...until we let go of the idea that we do it on our own.

Faith is accepting we cannot see success ahead...until we let go of wanting to shape it like we want it. It is not ours to control, and have to let go of that and other attachments.

The Divine Role of Christ helps us to take that idea and make it real in our lives. Even if a Christ is a mythical figure. We still can't do it with a mindset of doing it on our own without transcending this world and our current thought processes and change our line of thinking we currently hold on our own. My ego will damn my progression until I let go of relying on myself to fix my life, and embrace a savior to lift me from my current position.

I don't know for sure, but I think that is the role of a Christ. That is what I want to believe, and hope it is true and meaningful to me and all of us.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by mom3 » 07 Jun 2018, 11:49

For me Christ is role model. He did things, according to scripture, that I can do to make sense and purpose of my life. I can pick so many scriptures to support that.

For your class though, they are looking for something more transendant. It's the God connection. The Redeemer part. If it were me, I would touch on the Divine Nature of him. Apply it to my own Divine Nature. I can't be him, but I can fulfill my life mission (that is super nebulous and safe) like he did his. You can point to his parables about getting to heaven, using the idea that because scripture lists him as the ONLY child of god -ie no mortal father, then he is the path marker for getting back home.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by Roy » 11 Jun 2018, 09:01

Remember the incident from the youth of Jesus where his parents can't find him.

A pet peeve of mine is where the parents, Joseph and Mary, get blamed for the whole thing. Now it was his parents role to keep an eye on him. They share a good portion of the blame. However, when they chastise their son for wandering off his response is without remorse.“Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

Which is the greater "sin"? To wander off and get lost as a child or when your distraught parents finally find you to reprimand them for caring enough to look for you?

I believe that people get overly defensive about the perfection of Jesus because Christianity has built a theology around Jesus being sinless and perfect. If, they reason, Jesus ever did anything wrong then he would not be worthy to re-enter the presence of God for himself - let alone to become an advocate for anyone else. The only hope of escaping hell is through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and without Jesus' perfection there is no sacrifice, no escape, no hope.

Therefore, whenever Jesus does anything questionable people use any tool to excuse and justify his action. They literally feel that their eternal salvation is on the line.

I personally chafe against all or nothing ultimatum theology. I remember a similar ultimatum in regards to LDS belief in evolution. (I believe from Joseph Fielding Smith.) It reasoned that if death existed before the fall then Adam's choice did not usher in death. If death existed always then there is no perfect paradisiacal state for mankind to return to. The atonement is pointless and all hope is lost.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by dande48 » 11 Jun 2018, 10:23

Roy wrote:
11 Jun 2018, 09:01
I believe that people get overly defensive about the perfection of Jesus because Christianity has built a theology around Jesus being sinless and perfect. If, they reason, Jesus ever did anything wrong then he would not be worthy to re-enter the presence of God for himself - let alone to become an advocate for anyone else. The only hope of escaping hell is through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus and without Jesus' perfection there is no sacrifice, no escape, no hope.
What is interesting to me, is that Christ in the New Testament never claimed he was perfect. Rather, most every reference to perfection is with becoming perfect, or being made perfect.
Matthew 19:16-17 wrote:And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
The first way I think most people read this, is that Christ is saying, "Thanks for calling me good, because that admits I am the one monotheistic God". But I think that's a weird way for Christ to phrase it, not to mention randomly off topic from what his disciple mentioned. I think Jesus is literally saying, "Don't call me good. No one but God is worthy of being called a good master." Like Roy mentioned, there is the story of young Jesus abandoning his parents without him telling them. And also, when a woman came to Christ for help, and He at first turned her down, calling her a "dog" because of her race (Matthew 15:25-26).

I strongly believe that modern Christianity is far removed from what Jesus taught and intended. Most LDS agree with that. But I also believe, LDS claims notwithstanding, that Joseph Smith was too heavily influenced by the theology and doctrines of his day, to bring about a true Restoration of the doctrines of Christ.

But I also completely respect other's necessity to believe in the literal, biological divinity and perfection of Christ in order to have the hope to carry on. What works for some, doesn't always work as well for others; It's not the literal facts which matter so much as the hope and inspiration it brings. I hope, one day that the LDS and Christianity as a whole, will come to respect mine as well. For me, personally, I don't find much inspiration from a perfect human, who sacrificed himself knowing full well he could bring himself back to life in a couple of days. I also don't find much comfort in thinking that such a perfect figure has/will pay the price for all my wrongdoings. I'd rather have a down-to-earth Christ, that I can relate to. I need a Christ who understands what it means to be human. I need a Christ who teaches, "I am a child of God, and so are you". That despite our shortcomings and imperfections, we can improve; that even though the world is set against us, rejects us, might even kill us, we can shake the eternities for the better. That's what Christ means to me.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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Re: The Divine Role of Jesus Christ

Post by Curt Sunshine » 11 Jun 2018, 18:42

We talk of the Atonement covering ALL things that harm or hinder our growth, including pain, sorrow, distress, etc. Our own actions are covered, but so are the effects of others' actions on us.

The story Roy mentioned of youthful Jesus at the temple adds something to that view of the Atonement that almost everyone misses:

Jesus hurt his parents and caused them pain, distress, and suffering.

If we accept the Atonement as described above, that means Jesus atoned for his own mistakes, even if he truly was sinless. That simple understanding opens all kinds of possibilities that make the Atonement much more expansive and powerful than if Jesus had been a mistake-free God-only-not-human being.

Finally, as has been mentioned here more than a few times, "perfect" as used in the New Testament means "complete, whole, fully developed". With that definition, sins, transgressions, mistakes, etc. literally have nothing to do with perfection. Rather, perfection is the completion of a journey that makes someone "whole and fully-developed". - or, in Mormon terms, "godlike" at some point during "time and all eternity".

How do I see Jesus' divine role? As the best example of what it takes to be saved, redeemed, anointed, etc. and, in the end, whenever that is, whole, complete, and fully-developed - or perfected. He is the "way" (where), the "truth" (what), and the "light" (how). He is the Healer, the Good Shepherd, the adoptive Father, the big Brother, the Bread and Water - and every other title that conveys helpful, servant leadership.

He isn't the unreachable, unfathomable God of mainstream Christianity. He is the role model we want and need.

I couldn't care less if that is literal or figurative or anything else. Neither changes a thing for me, so I don't spend any emotional or spiritual (or cultural) capital on arguing about it. You need it to be literal? Cool. You need it to be figurative? Cool. You need it to be mythological? Cool. One view works for you? Cool. Works for me.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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