Which God is real?

Posted on July 12, 2010 By

There wouldn’t be such a thing as counterfeit gold if there were no real gold somewhere.

—SUFI PROVERB

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Some viewers of this website may inclined to ask: OK, assuming that there is a God, how can you be so arrogant as to believe that YOUR God is the true God and that every other concept of God is wrong?! How utterly closed-minded, ethnocentric, naive, and parochial!! Further, what evidence do you have that Jesus is who he said he was? The testimony of some writings from 2000 years ago?!  

Well, the first crucial point is that the Judeo/Christian concept of God has emerged throughout history in far more instances than just in Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the Judeo/Christian concept of God is utterly transcultural and transhistorical:

Roy Abraham Varghese notes in his book The Christ Connection: How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus:

“No one has chronicled the belief of…primeval peoples in as much detail as [Wilhelm] Schmidt in his twelve-volume The Origin of the Idea of God. Schmidt points out that the African and Asiatic Pygmies believed in a supreme being.  The same is true of the Bushmen in South Africa; the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego in South America; the Aboriginies of Australia; the Samoyeds, Koryaks, and Eskimos of the Arctic; and major Native American tribes. The notion of a supreme being is truly global. The names most commonly given to the supreme being, says Schmidt, denote his ‘fatherhood, creative power and residence in the sky.’ The primeval peoples also highlight key attributes of the supreme being:

1) Eternity,  2) Omniscience,   3) Beneficence,   4) Morality,   5) Omnipotence,   6) Creative power,

7) Giver of the moral code,  8) Author of moral rewards and punishments.”

These same above eight attributes are the crucial attributes of the God of the Bible. Considering this, one would be inclined to ask: If the concepts of God emerging in separate cultures have the same attributes, by what means could one reasonably argue that these cultures are referring to anything other than the same God?

This phenomenon of the one true God revealing himself to all peoples is further described by Christian missionary Don Richardson in his book Eternity In Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World.

Among the many examples that Richardson cites is that of the Karen people of Burma (now known as Myanmar). He cites Karen hymns as evidence to this fact:

One such hymn extolled the eternity of Y’wa’s being [Y’wa being the Karen name for God]:

“Y’wa is eternal, his life is long.  One aeon–he dies not!  Two aeons–he dies not! He is perfect in meritorious attributes.  Aeons follow aeons–he dies not.'”

The Karen story of man’s falling away from God contains stunning parallels to Genesis chapter 1:

“Y’wa formed the world originally. He appointed food and drink.  He appointed the “fruit of trial.” He gave detailed orders.  Mu-kaw-lee [Satan] deceived two persons.”

“When Y’wa made Tha-nai and Ee-u, he placed them in a garden…saying, ‘In the garden I have made for you seven different kinds of trees, bearing seven…kinds of fruit. Among the seven, one tree is not good to eat…If you eat, you will become old, you will sicken, you will die…Eat and drink with care. Once in seven days I will visit you…’”

“After a time Mu-kaw-lee came to the man and woman and said, ‘Why are you here?’

“Our father put us here,’ they replied.

“What do you eat here?’ asked Mu-kaw-lee

“Our Lord Y’wa has created food for us, food without limit.’

“‘Show me your food,’ said Mu-kaw-lee.

“…Our Father, the Lord Y’wa said to us, ‘Eat not the fruit of this tree.  If you eat, you will die.’

“…Then Mu-kaw-lee replied, ‘It is not so, O my children. The heart of your Father Y’wa is not with you. This is the richest and the sweetest…If you eat it, you will possess miraculous powers. You will be able to ascend to heaven…  If you will eat the fruit as a trial, then you will know all…’”

In the paragraphs that follow, the man, Tha-nai, refuses the enticement and walks away. The woman, Ee-u, lingers, succumbs to temptation, eats the fruit and then entices her husband, who also eats.

Richardson goes on to describe how these Karen beliefs about Y’wa almost certainly “predate both Judaism and Christianity.” Later in the book, after detailing many other cultures with concepts of God strikingly similar to the Judeo/Christian God, Richardson laments:

“How tragic then that Christians in general have been told almost nothing of this worldwide phenomenon of monotheistic presupposition underlying most of the world’s folk religions! Many theologians — and even some missionaries whose ministries have been tremendously facilitated by the phenomenon — have nervously pushed this mind-expanding evidence into the closet.”

“Why?  If you belong to a tradition which has been teaching Christians for centuries that the rest of the world sits in total darkness and knows zilch about God, it becomes a little embarrassing to have to say, ‘We have been wrong. In actual fact, more than 90 percent of this world’s folk religions acknowledge at least the existence of God. Some even anticipate His redeeming concern for mankind.’”

“…No other message on Earth has an inside track already laid for it in the belief systems of thousands of very different human societies!”

In Finding God in Ancient China: How the Ancient Chinese Worshiped the God of the Bible, Chinese Christian Chan Kei Thong notes how the same God described in the Christian and Hebrew bible revealed himself to the ancient Chinese:

“When we look at what the ancient Chinese knew of Shang Di and at the kind of relationship they had with Him and He with them, we can say with confidence that Shang Di parallels the Creator God of the Hebrews and Christians. The picture that emerges dovetails so neatly and corresponds so closely with the One described in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that we can recognize Him as one and the same.”

Chan goes on to list the attributes which Shang Di and the God of the Bible have in common: He substantiates these common attributes by citing biblical passages and corresponding passages in ancient Chinese writings. These attributes include: sovereign, eternal, immutable, all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, infinite, loving, holy, full of grace, faithful, good, merciful and compassionate, just and righteous, and wise.

Regarding Jesus, one crucial point is that Jesus’ life and purpose (to serve as God’s self-sacrifice in human form as a remission for human sin) was foretold before his birth. The 53rd chapter of the book of Isaiah from the Hebrew Bible, written 700 years before Jesus birth, is perhaps the most prominent of these prescient Hebrew scriptures:

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Perhaps most Christians reading this will already be familiar with the above prophecies. But, much less known is the fact that Jesus’ arrival was foretold in the Hindu scriptures. That’s right, Hindu scriptures *. Sound like a bold claim? Decide for yourself:

Roy Abraham Varghese cites excerpts from the Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas and Upanishads, which predate (by hundreds of years), and very convincingly seem to prefigure, the life and mission of Jesus, in his book The Christ Connection: How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus. The Vedas date to at least 1200 B.C. and the Upanishads to around 500-400 B.C. Below are a few of these passages:

“The Supreme Creator took a perfect human body (Nishkalanka Purusha) and offered it up as a self-sacrifice (Brihad Aranyak Upanishad 1:2:8).”

“If you want to be delivered from the sin, which you commit through eyes, mouth, ears and mind, bloodshed is necessary. Without shedding the blood, there is no remission for sin. That must be the blood of the Holy one. God is our creator. He is our King. When we were perishing, He came to save us by offering even his own body on our behalf.” (Tandya Mahabrahmana 4.15).

“The redemption is through shedding of blood only and that blood has to be through the sacrifice of God himself.” (Taittiriya Aranyaka, verse 3).

“This [sacrifice] is the only way for the redemption and liberation of mankind. Those who meditate and attain this man, believe in heart and chant with the lips, get liberated in this world itself and there is no other way for salvation too.” (Yajur-Veda 31:18)

“The Purusha was above sin, and only in knowing him does one attain immortality.” (Chandogyopanishad 1:6:6-7)

“After giving Himself as the supreme sacrifice, this Purush resurrected himself.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3.9.28.4-5; Kathopanishad 3: 15).

“The purpose of this sacrifice is to provide the only way to Heaven and the only way to escape from Hell.” (Rig-Veda 9:113:7-11; 4:5:5; 7:104:3).

“His hands and legs are to be bound to a yoopa [a wooden pole] causing blood shed.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3.9.28; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6).

“The sacrificial victim is to be crowned with a crown made of thorny vines.” (Rig-Veda 10:90:7, Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3:9:28).

“Before death he should be given a drink of somarasa [sour wine made of an herb called somalatha].” (Yajur-Veda 31).

“None of His bones must be broken.”  (Yajur-Veda 31:; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6)

Please review this article from the Indian newspaper The Hindu, which makes the same points as Varghese.

And contrary to misunderstandings in the west (that have resulted from cultural mistranslations), Hinduism (at least as presented in the Vedas and Upanishads) is a largely monotheistic, not polytheistic religion. Varghese explains that “the tenth book of the Rig-Veda says, ‘The One Being is contemplated by the sages in many forms: Ekam santam bahudha kalpayanti.’”

In The Wonder of the World, Varghese cites the great Hindu scholar B.N.K Sharma who declares that, also contrary to misinterpretations, Hinduism* is theistic as opposed to monist (theism teaches that God and the universe are separate, monism teaches that they are one in the same). Perhaps most remarkably, it is a monotheistic religion with echoes of the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity. Sound like more bold claims? Hard to believe? Read the book.

Further, the God of the Bible apparently revealed what he was doing with the sacrifice of his son Jesus to the ancient Chinese. Chinese Christian Chan Kei Thong writes in Finding God In Ancient China: How the Ancient Chinese Worshiped the God of the Bible:

“The Bible recounts a dramatic astronomic phenomenon occurring at the cruxifiction:

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’  Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23: 44-46)

Note that this solar eclipse lasted for three hours — from the sixth to the ninth hour, which is roughly noon to 3pm in modern timekeeping–before Jesus breathed His last. At that moment, the veil of the Jewish temple was supernaturally torn in two: a dramatic symbolization that the barrier between God and man was removed once and for all.”

“Once again, this event is corroborated in the Chinese historical documents, which record a highly significant solar eclipse occurring around the time indicated in the biblical account:

In the day of Gui Hai, the last day of the month, there was a solar eclipse, [The emperor] avoided the Throne Room, suspended all military activities, and did not handle official business for five days. And he proclaimed, ‘My poor character has caused this calamity, that the sun and the moon were veiled, I am fearful and trembling. What can I say?… Anyone who presents a memorial is not allowed to mention the word ‘holy’”.

“Another entry made a short time later, referring to the same eclipse, said:

Summer, fourth month [of the year], on the day of Ren Wu, the imperial edict reads, ‘Yin and Yang have mistakenly switched, and the sun and the moon were eclipsed. The sins of all the people are now on one man.  [The emperor] proclaims pardon to all under heaven.’

This solar eclipse was recorded in the Record of the Latter Han Dynasty, Gui Han was the last day of the third month in the spring, during the 7th year of Han Emperor Guang Wu (reigned A.D. 25 – 57). That corresponds to A.D. 31, which means that this major eclipse happened 34 years after the astral events involving the magi! “[At the time of Christ’s birth]

“Even more incredibly, a commentary in the Record of the Latter Han Dynasty, said simply,

‘Eclipse on the day of Gui Hai, Man from heaven died.’

The man from heaven died! Could there be a more apt description or a more accurate understanding of the Cruxifiction?

God’s love extends to all the nations of the world, and in some unique and unknown way, He gave special insight to Chinese astronomers to understand what He was doing. We are all sinners, even the emperor, but God laid all our sins on His only Son, Jesus Christ.”

Thong then goes on to describe how the Record of the Han Dynasty records that a rainbow encircled the sun three days after the eclipse, which corresponds with the day of Christ’s resurrection.

Perhaps these are contributing factors to the phenomenon of China already having more Christians than Communist Party members!

By all of this do I mean to suggest that the concepts of God presented in all of these religions are basically equivalent and that one should be free to pick whichever religious tradition best suits one’s taste? Certainly not.

My main point is that the God of Christianity has not chosen to reveal himself exclusively to Christians. Rather, the God of Christianity, far from being the tribal God of white skinned westerners, is an utterly transcultural and transhistorical God that used the focal point of one man, at one point in history, to accomplish his self-sacrifice as atonement for human sin. And, in modern times, Christianity is truly the most global of all religions, with large numbers of adherents in all of the inhabited continents.

Galatians 3:8, in the Christian Bible states, “All nations will be blessed through you.”

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*Please click on this link for a more in-depth understanding of what I mean by “Hindu scriptures” and “Hinduism.”

For further reading on the phenomenon of Jesus, please read the following books:

1) Who Moved the Stone? by Frank Morison. When Morison, a British journalist, set out to write this book, his intent was to prove once and for all that the story of Christ’s resurrection is false. In the process of researching for the book, however, he came to the opposite conclusion.

2) The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller.

3) A Case for the Divinity of Jesus by Dean Overman. The author was a Templeton Scholar at Oxford University and is absolutely brilliant.

4) C.S. Lewis’ Case for Christ by Arthur Lindsley.  C.S. Lewis was an atheist Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University. His encyclopedic knowledge of mythology, coupled with his conversations with his friend J.R.R. Tolkein (author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings) led him to conclude that Christianity is a “true myth.” Please read my essay Isn’t Christianity a Myth to explore this subject further.

5) The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Like Morison, Strobel was an investigative journalist and an atheist. When he set out to investigate the claims surrounding Jesus, he did so with the intent to disprove….but came to the opposite conclusion.


22 comments


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    Hassan Haibeh says:

    How about Islam ? They believe and worship One God and that he sent Messengers with no one sharing his divinity.


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    pashton says:

    I have studied both the old and new testament and I have studied Hindu and Buddhist scripture the God which Quran show us is the real and true God. Judaism is some how closer to Islam in God concept but Christian made Human Jesus as God which is completely against the current bible even, B9iible tell us about Jesus( Jesus of Nazareth a man approved of God by wonders and miracels which God did through him) this verse is quite clear that Jesus was human and a messenger sent by God.in Hinduism and Buddhism it is also clear that God has no Idol or statue or any other presentation like bible says that No ever has seen God the same is in Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. I tell clearly without any fanatizm that please read the book of all the religions and then make your decision and you will surely find the true God.


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      Fahad says:

      Today’s life has gone miserable people edited there almost all holy books including bible only left is quran I don’t want to quarrel with anyone here many reasons are given Why only Allah’s name is written on clouds ??? It’s a symbol of true god Allah almighty I believe im my god and I am one of the strongest men here in my faith and at my end when you all guys gonna die just remember this that angel of death will snatch your souls giving you pain and other horrible pains you all just remember what I said end is must I believe some of you won’t but when someone of you die just realize what I said………


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      lilyee says:

      how do you say a simple prayer?
      in the name of the holy god.,holy spirit son of the holy god jesus christ amen…..


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      Pashton:

      If you think that the Bible says that Jesus wasn’t really God (but just a human messenger), then I submit that you haven’t really studied the Bible.

      Please read this article. Some excerpts:

      Take for example Jesus’ words in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” When first encountered, this might not seem to be a claim to be God. However, when we look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement, “For a good work we stone thee not; replied the Jews, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33). Now we see an actual claim. The Jews understood Jesus’ statement to be a claim to be God. In the following verses, Jesus never corrects the Jews by saying, “I did not claim to be God.” That indicates Jesus was truly saying He was God by declaring, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

      John 8:58 is another example. Jesus declared, “I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. ” Again, in response, the Jews take up stones in an attempt to stone Jesus (John 8:59). Why would the Jews want to stone Jesus if He hadn’t said something they believed to be blasphemous, namely, a claim to be God? John repeatedly tells us of the Lord’s connection to “I Am”. See John: 4:26, 8:24, 8:28, 8:58,and 13:19. The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus “..is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15-17)

      John 1:1 says that “the Word was God.” John 1:14 says that “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” This clearly indicates that Jesus is God in the flesh. Acts 20:28 tells us, “…Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.” Who bought the church with His own blood? Jesus Christ. Acts 20:28 declares that God purchased the church with His own blood. Therefore, Jesus is God!

      Scott


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        pashton says:

        Scott

        Either your bible is wrong and contradicting itself. Jesus says My father is greater than I and my father is greater than All. He also says I can not do any thing by my own as I hear i judge and my judgement is Just for I seek not my will but the will of the one sent me.
        The verses you qouted like I and my father are one. It doet not mean one in existance or power but one in prophecy becz jesus was not talking from himself but as messenger delivering God words.Jews beleived in one God and still beleive so this is why Jesus said I did not came to break the law of moses but to fulfill.The stories of jews in the bible that states Jesus cliamed divinity and jews therefore rejected him is a fabrication in the bible Jesus himself sasy (God Call me Good master for God only is good) Jesus replyto satan on the hill when satan asked him to bow down ot him and Jesus said It is written to bow down God only. Also in the same chatpter few verses back Satan told him if you are really gods son then your god will send angles for your support.If jesus was God he should have told him that why you offer me the kindgoms these are all mine and created by me he shouh have replied that Why i bow down to you for I am God and every thing should bow down to me.If he was God he should have told satan that I exiled you from the heaven now you want to tempt me but in the whole storey Jesus reacted as human and powerless man of God. my dear if you read the entire bible it is full of the evidences that Jesus was not God. about John you quoted the first verses which says in the begining it was word and the word was with God and the word was fully God. Let me ask you a question the verse says the it was word and word was with God.this verse give you exactly two Gods becase on God wil be the word and the other God is who bear the word or who owns the word so do you christians beleive in two Gods.


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          Pashton:

          I think this article provides a good reply to your points. I have bolded what I consider to be especially important.

          Here is the passage in question:

          “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you ‘ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater (meizon) than I.” John 14:28

          Since the questioner (a Muslim) assumes Unitarianism (that God is one in being and in Person), it obviously doesn’t make sense for God to speak of someone being greater than himself. Yet, if God is a Trinity, a Trinitarian Being (i.e. one eternal God existing in three distinct, yet inseparable Persons), then it is quite possible for one member or Person of the Godhead to be greater in some sense than the other members. It would be true that nothing outside of the Holy Trinity’s own existence could ever be greater, but this doesn’t necessarily imply that there cannot be some type of authority structure or ranking within the internal life and relationships of the Trinity itself.

          For now, let us deal with what Jesus intended to convey to his disciples that the Father was greater than he. In the first place, the term for “greater” (Greek – meizon) does not necessarily imply one who is greater in nature or essence. It can refer to someone or something being greater in position and/or authority, just as the following passages show:

          “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater (meizon) than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11

          John being greater than all those born of women does not imply that the rest were less human than John, or that they were inferior to John in nature. Here, the term must mean that John was greater in position and rank.

          “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater (meizon) than his master, nor is one who is sent greater (meizon) than the one who sent him.” John 13:16

          Both the slave and the one sent are just as human as the master and the sender, having the same human essence and nature that the master and sender have. Thus, greater here must mean in position and authority, not in essence and nature.

          “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater (meizona) things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12

          Jesus’ disciples did not perform better works, but performed a greater number of works than Christ since they reached far more people than Jesus did while he was on earth. Hence, the term “greater” refers to quantity, the amount of works, as opposed to quality since the disciples performed the same type of works but in far greater number.

          The preceding data shows that the word meizon can either mean, depending upon the context, greater in nature, position, or even both. Thus, the only way we can know for certain what Jesus meant by saying that the Father was greater than him is by reading his statement in its immediate context. A careful look at the entire chapter of 14 shows the Lord Jesus claiming to have all of God’s omni-attributes:

          “And I WILL DO whatever you ask IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask ME for anything in my name, AND I WILL DO IT.” John 14:13-14

          Christ is capable of personally answering all prayers that are directed to him or are addressed in his name. The only way that Christ can both hear and answer all these prayers is if he is both omniscient and omnipotent!

          “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, AND I AM IN YOU. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:20-21

          Christ says that he is IN all the disciples, an impossible claim if he was only a man, or even an angel. But since Jesus is God, and since God is omnipresent, it therefore makes perfect sense for Christ to say he is able to dwell in all the believers at the same time.

          Finally:

          “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.’” John 14:23

          Both the Father and the Son make their home with all true believers! Christ is clearly claiming co-equality with the Father since he is present with every believer in the same way that the Father is!

          In fact, even those who heard Jesus knew that he was claiming to be equal to his Father:

          “And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, AND I AM WORKING.’ This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal (ison) with God.” John 5:16-18

          The reason why the Jews thought that Jesus was claiming equality with God is because of his bold assertion that he has the same divine right to work on the Sabbath as his Father does, being his Son. Jesus was pretty much saying that, as God’s Son, he could do things which were considered unlawful on this sacred day since he is not bound by the laws and regulations of the Sabbath in the same way that God isn’t bound by them.

          The following is another example of Jesus claiming to be equal with the Father:

          “‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” John 10:27-33

          Christ ascribes to himself the very exclusive prerogatives of Deity:

          “See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39

          “Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” Isaiah 43:13

          As if this weren’t astonishing enough, Jesus says that he is one with the Father right after stating that the latter is greater than all, which in the context refers to those who would try to pluck believers from the Father’s all-powerful hand.

          To more fully appreciate the implications of these statements, keep in mind that Jesus’ point is that there is no person who can prevent God from protecting his flock since there is no being that is as powerful as God who can thereby thwart his purposes in saving his sheep. Yet the Lord Jesus places himself in a unique position and category since he actually believes that he is his Father’s equal, being one with him in ability and power which is completely unlike anyone else!

          No wonder the Jews thought that Jesus was blaspheming. They could clearly see that Christ was claiming to be God for believing that he could do things which only Yahweh could do and for actually thinking that he was just as powerful as the Father!

          In light of the foregoing, it is quite clear what the Lord Jesus meant that the Father was greater than him. The Scriptures teach that when Christ became a man, he assumed the role and position of a slave/servant:

          “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:27

          “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’ For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’ When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.'” John 13:3-15

          “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

          Thus, as long as Christ remained on earth in the form and position of a humble slave, enduring persecution, insults, injury, and subsequently the shame of the cross, the Father would be greater in position and honor. Once Christ returns to heaven to be seated alongside his Father, he would no longer be in that state of humiliation. He would share, once again, that same divine glory and sovereign authority that he had with the Father before he had come to the earth as a man:

          “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was… Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:5, 24

          Thus, the Father was greater in position and rank, not in essence and nature. The questioner is, therefore, committing a categorical fallacy. He/she is confusing the category of position and rank with the category of essence and nature, erroneously assuming that if one is greater in one way, i.e. position and authority, than he/she must be greater in every way, i.e. essence and nature. In light of these clear biblical truths, such is not the case at all.


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    Jeremy Scott says:

    Fantastic article! As a lover of mythology and a Christian, I’ve always wondered if maybe other religions had a link to Judaism. I’m glad to see that there is some evidence for it. Keep up the good work!


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      Jeremy:

      If you liked this essay, you might also like Isn’t Christianity a Myth? It also delves into the topic of mythology as it pertains to Christianity.

      Thanks for the compliment.

      Scott

      P.S: I am always trying to boost traffic, so if you were to mention my site to your Facebook friends, it would be appreciated.


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    Nate says:

    Scott,

    I agree with the above comments. Great site and great post in particular.

    One questions I do have though in regard to this post is how is this different, or what kind of information may be presented that can counter an Atheists claim that “See Christianity just stole ideas from other religions and beliefs!”

    Now we know that in general, that claim is totally false (ie, Zeitgeist, Dionysus, etc) but as I read this post, I continued to wait for this claim to be addressed.

    Anyway, hoping you might have information, data, insight on how such a claim would be countered in light of this post. For example, how the writers would have had no contact with the others due to time of writing, physical locations, etc.

    I’ve never heard this information before so I found it very intriguing.

    Thanks for what you do! Keep up the good work


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      Nate:

      My essay titled Isn’t Christianity a Myth? pertains to your question.

      Also, below is an excerpt from Lee Strobel’s book A Case for Christ which pertains to your question. It features Strobel interviewing Ivy-League educated theology professor Gregory Boyd.

      JESUS AND THE “MYSTERY RELIGIONS”

      OK, I thought to myself, let’s give this one more try. A lot of college students are taught that many of the themes seen in the life of Jesus are merely echoes of ancient “mystery religions,” in which there are stories about gods dying and rising, and rituals of baptism and communion. “What about those parallels?” I asked. “That was a very popular argument at the beginning of the century, but it generally died off because it was so discredited. For one thing, given the timing involved, if you’re going to argue for borrowing, it should be from the direction of Christianity to the mystery religions, not vice versa. “Also, the mystery religions were do-your-own-thing religions that freely borrowed ideas from various places. However, the Jews carefully guarded their beliefs from outside influences. They saw themselves as a separate people and strongly resisted pagan ideas and rituals.” To me, the most interesting potential parallels were the mythological tales of gods dying and rising.

      “Aren’t those stories similar to Christian beliefs?” I asked. “While it’s true that some mystery religions had stories of gods dying and rising, these stories always revolved around the natural life cycle of death and rebirth,” Boyd said. “Crops die in the fall and come to life in the spring. People express the wonder of this ongoing phenomenon through mythological stories about gods dying and rising. These stories were always cast in a legendary form. They depicted events that happened ‘once upon a time.’ “Contrast that with the depiction of Jesus Christ in the gospels. They talk about someone who actually lived several decades earlier, and they name names—crucified under Pontius Pilate, when Caiaphas was the high priest, and the father of Alexander and Rufus carried his cross, for example. That’s concrete historical stuff. It has nothing in common with stories about what supposedly happened ‘once upon a time.’ “And Christianity has nothing to do with life cycles or the harvest. It has to do with a very Jewish belief—which is absent from the mystery religions—about the resurrection of the dead and about life eternal and reconciliation with God. “As for the suggestion that the New Testament doctrines of baptism or communion come from mystery religions, that’s just nonsense. For one thing, the evidence for these supposed parallels comes after the second century, so any borrowing would have come from Christianity, not the other way around.

      “And when you look carefully, the similarities vanish. For instance, to get to a higher level in the Mithra cult, followers had to stand under a bull while it was slain, so they could be bathed in its blood and guts. Then they’d join the others in eating the bull. “Now, to suggest that Jews would find anything attractive about this and want to model baptism and communion after this barbaric practice is extremely implausible, which is why most scholars don’t go for it.”

      Thanks for the compliments! Such compliments keep me encouraged.

      Scott


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    Gabriel says:

    I have to say that I am crazy impressed! This website is amazing and I thank you so much for the information! As a young student I have made it one of my missions to spread the word in this way and this website is helping me tons!

    One of the things I really would suggest is to maybe change the name of the site into, lets say, isgodreal.com or isthereagod.com so that people who search that on google find your site first in their search and more and more people will read it! Or maybe just put more keywords on your site that fit the standard.

    Also I wish to make one of these sites myself, but I don’t enough to actually make it haha, but if I may suggest creating another link in the site or portal to quick answers for all these questions mainly for kids my age, because they find reading all of this bothersome, which is sad for them because its rich with answers and knowledge. But I feel if they can get quick answers they may be persuaded to continue to read the whole site fully!


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      syoungren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Gabriel:

      Thanks for the compliment. It is heart warming to know that the site is useful to people. I am working with a search engine optimization guy right now to help the site get more traffic.

      I like your ideas and will seriously consider your suggestions. I have acted on many suggestions from readers in the past (such as getting Facebook and Twitter links).

      Do me a favor and notify your Facebook friends about the site.

      Scott


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    Rich says:

    Great website ( i mean stunningly good. Brilliant!) I am really learning a lot from you! R (btw CS Lewis fro Oxford University, not Cambridge)


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      syoungren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Rich:

      Thanks much. I love to get positive input, as it keeps me encouraged that the website is making a difference. Please do me a favor and let your Facebook friends know about my site (if you have a Facebook account).

      Regarding C.S. Lewis, he was actually at both Oxford and Cambridge (at different points in his career).

      Scott


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    J.Fred says:

    You are still assumuming a anthrocentric view of god, why does it even have to involve Earth?


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      syoungren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      I’m not sure what you mean. Can you rephrase or elaborate?


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    GerryD says:

    Hi Scott, What do u know of the language of the ancient books of the OT? I had one guy quote this “check the translation of the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet system which is called Hebrew, your Bible was written in the Black Canaanite language not the Aramaic Square Script.” What if any would be the consequences of this claim? I cant really see what it would matter whether the claim is true or whether the OT was written in Hebrew or Aramaic, would it?


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      syoungren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      I have not heard anything of the sort. I can’t see that it would matter either.

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