"...although he (Jesus Christ) existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:6-7 (NASB).
Meherally claims that being in the image of God does not necessarily qualify Jesus Christ as being God, and that the verses from Philippians do not demonstrate the divine qualities of Jesus Christ.
In trying to come to terms with the passage, Meherally seems to have totally ignored the following part of the verse 6,
"did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped" Philippians 2:6
This is a very strong statement speaking of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, there is no doubt about the clarity of the text,it is quite clear that Jesus Christ has equality with God, the verse merely speaks of how it was not regarded as something to be grasped, (which is a denial that anyone can attain divinity and to remind us that Jesus Christ did not become God rather God became man in the person of Jesus Chirst). I would challenge Meherally to absorb and understand this verse rather than ignoring it, as it is very explicit in speaking of Jesus Christ's equality with God.
"Man though an image of God is not God, nor the God is man." (Meherally)
Genesis 1:26 says man was made in the image of God, where as Philippians states that Jesus Christ is the image of God. There is an important distinction of these two titles, and the scripture support this as we read in Colossians that the fullness of the Godhead dwells within Jesus Christ (Col 1:16). This distinction is certainly something that we cannot say of human beings, and it is incorrect to try and draw parallels between these two titles.
"In the New English Bible the word `morphe' is translated as "nature". The text conveys; Jesus had the Divine nature." (Meherally)
Up till now Meherally has been trying to equate Jesus Christ as being only a man, interestingly enough he gives admits that Jesus Christ had a divine nature, but is unwilling to comment upon the ramifications of this. We need to ask ourselves the honest question, who else could posses a divine nature except God when we are speaking within the realms of monotheism (belief in one God).
The very notion of regarding "equality with God" is contrary to the basic fundamental concept of "monotheism". (Meherally)
Meherally seems to be committing the Muslim fallacy of equivocation, in understanding biblical monotheism to consist of an Aristotollean unitarian god (i.e a god of singular unity). The biblical and Christian concept of God presents a monotheistic God (singular multi personal God), which does not run contrary to the fact that Jesus Christ is equal with God and yet God is one. For further information please refer to answer 23, section 2 under the title 'Can God send God'.
"The phrase "a position next to God"(John 17:5) clearly tells us Jesus did not have the "equality with God" during his ministry or before or after." (Meherally)
Again he takes the unitarian position (a non biblical concept) to argue that, by Jesus Christ having a position next to God, he therefore cannot be God. This is only half the story and Meherally has not looked to the full meaning of the verse. If we re-read the verse, we notice that what Meherally says does not add up, the position that is described of Jesus Christ, is next to God which indicates equality.
"Was the righteous Jesus then also "acting" or intentionally misleading his disciples, when he said; "the Father is greater than I"? (John. 14:s28)." (Meherally)
No, Jesus Christ does not mislead, the fact that Jesus said that 'the Father is greater than I' cannot be simply construed as meaning that Jesus Christ is not God there is a submission of relationship and not divinity, please see Answers 23 and 25 for a further explanation.
"The fact that Jesus did act as "a bond servant", because he was "a bond servant". Read Acts 3:13, 3:26, 4:27 NASB." (Meherally)
This statement contains a part truth, we need to emphasise that Jesus Christ became a bond servant, and this is the whole point of the passage. Unfortunately Meherally has failed to read and understand the whole story as to why Jesus Christ became a bond servant, we need to look to Philippians chapter 2 verses 5-12 to obtain the bigger picture, which goes into more detil about the role of Jesus Chirst's servanthood.
The passage speaks of humility (v5) and how the person of Jesus Christ is a prime example to mankind, (we must not forget that Jesus Christ came also to act as a living example for humanity, indeed here is no better example). First we read that Jesus Christ became a bond servant, this means that there was a time when Jesus was not a bond servant. For example, if I become a father, then that means that from a certain point in time I am a father, however I was not a father all my life. The same principle is true of Jesus Christ, he was not always a bond servant, but from a certain point in time he became a bond servant. As we read further on in the passage, we find that through this humility Jesus Christ did not remain in such a form but was exalted back to the highest position, consider the following titles that are placed on him as the passage progresses.
"Giving him a name which is above all other names" Phil 2:9
"That every knee should bow of things that are in heaven and things that are in earth." Phil 2:10
Whose name is above all others? and to whom will all the creaures of heaven and earth bow their knees? It is clear that this can be only referring to God Almighty himself.
The end of the passage cofirms to us that Jesus Christ after being teporarily a servant returned to the original glory, the Word (logos Gk.) who was from the beginning God (John 1:1, see Answer 15 for further information).
"I do not subscribe to the `Doctrine of Trinity' because the under quoted twelve verses from the New Testament (NASB) categorically and in very **EXPLICITE TERMS** NEGATE the above concept" (Meherally)
Meherally beings by giving a short description of the Trinity (which has some minor errors in it), he then goes on to make the point that all persons of the Trinity are co-equal and co-substanatial. As a counter argument to this he then proceeds to pick out all the human characteristics of Jesus and claims that this negates the doctrine.
What Meherally fails to do in his argument is to address the proofs for Jesus Christ's divinity from the scriptures which cannot be ignored when dealing with why the Bible teaches the doctrine of the triune God. The answers made in response to the previous questions highlight how the Bible texts prove Jesus Chirst's divinity and how God himself gave us a living example of how not only we should live but also how God himself meets our greatest need by overcoming the problem of out disobedience to him through the greatest sacrifice made for the whole of mankind.
For the moment however, let us consider Meherally's arguments,
What Meherally has failed to consider is the fact that Jesus Christ whilst being God, at the point of his coming to earth "became flesh and dwelt amongst us" (John 1:14), this indicates that from Jesus Christ's existence upon the Earth he had taken on a human form hence he became visible to the human eye (John 1:18), ate, felt pain, spoke with and interacted with mankind. The nature that made it possible for him to do this, was the human nature that existed along the divine nature, hence God became man. The human acts that were performed by Jesus Christ were part of his human nature (the divine nature does not desire food or clothing, for whilst it is incomprehensible to humanity, we know that the divine nature does not lack or have need of food). On the other hand, acts such as Jesus Christ raising himself to eternal life (John 2:19-23), the creation of the World (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16) and the forgiving of sin against God (John 1:29) were performed by the divine nature.
With this major point in mind, we can safely conclude that all human characteristics such as submission, need and limitations belong to the human nature whilst all divine attributes belong to the divine or godly nature.
In this light, we can consider the following twelve verses throw into question the divinity of Jesus Christ.
1. "...I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I". John.14:28"
This verse is often used to try and prove that Jesus Christ is not God (in fact Meherally uses this same argument in the last question), and indeed Jesus Christ the Son is indeed admitting subjection to the Father, as he does in other passages of the gospel (Injil). There is however no clear statement or denial from the lips of Jesus Christ that he is not God, indeed the subjection that he mentions is of himself to the Father, this is a subjection of relationship and not of nature. To illustrate the point more clearly, a human father is greater than his son, but this does not make the zon any less a man, and so it is that Jesus Christ does is not any less God by being the Son of God. See Answer 21 for a more detailed explanation.
2. "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ." 1 Corin. 11:3
Like the first argument this verse speaks of a subjection of relationship, not of nature. Even though the man has headship over the woman, a woman is no less a human being than a man, and so the same distinction of nature cannot be applied to God and to Christ, who is clearly spoken of in the Bible as being God (Issiah 9:6, John 1:1).
3. "Behold, My servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles." Matthew 12:18
4. "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus..." Acts 3:13
5. "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy Servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint..." Acts 4:27
6. "For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." Acts 3:26
7. "And you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God." 1 Corin 3:23.
Points 3 to 7 refer to Jesus Christ as being the servant of God, the argument therefore would go along the lines of,
If Jesus Christ was the servant of God, how can he be equal with God?
In responding to this we also need to consider that Jesus Christ himself said, "no servant is greater than his master". There can be no denial made of the fact that Jesus Christ was a servant, the texts quoted speak quite clearly of this. First we need to stress the point that Jesus Christ was a servant of God, by limiting the argument only to this view of Jesus Christ, we are indeed missing the bigger picture that the gospel (injil) presents us with.
The book of Hebrews tell us that Jesus Christ was made "lower than the angels" Hebrews 2:9, or became a man as is mentioned in the Gospel (John 1:4). We could like Meherally, stop at that point and content ourselves with the view that Jesus Christ was indeed not equal with God the Father, but in doing so we are not staying within the whole message of the gospel (injil), as we are indeed ignoring several clear and explicit facts that the gospel (injil) present the reader with. By reading into the bigger picture we find that both books however make it quite clear that Jesus Christ is the "express image of his [God's] person" Hebrews 1:3 and that "The Word [Jesus Christ] was God" John 1:3c (see Answer 15 for further details).
So what does the bigger picture tell us? Two things, firstly that Jesus Christ whilst being indeed divine and secondly he became a servant "and the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us" John 1:14, "for verily he took on not the nature of angels... but the seed of Abraham" Hebrews 2:16. This taking on of the humbled status was done for a period of time until the full glory was restored when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven (Phil 2:6-12). By understanding the full concept behind the true nature of Jesus Christ we are able to therefore understand that servanthood is not indicative of a denial of divinity, rather the servant hood explains to us how God has set a perfect living example of how we should act when dealing with our fellow human beings and of course God himself.
8. "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." John 17:3
Jesus Christ is certainly mentioned as being distinct from God but this does not tell us that Jesus Christ is not God. Indeed the Judeao-Christian concept of monotheism allows for such a statement to be made and not to disqualify Jesus Christ as being God, see Answer 23 underthe title Can God send God? for a more detailed explanation.
9. "And Jesus said to him, `Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone." Mark 10:18
This is a frequently misquoted text, to which I have written a more generalised response, click on the link for further details.
10. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Matthew 24:36
It is very important to re-read the text again, there is no clear denial of Jesus Christ being God. Does the text support this concept? Well let us break down the verse and understand what it is saying.
Jesus Christ was asked as to when the day of judgement is, in his initial response he states that "..of that day and hour no one knows", the no-one refers to the people who dwell upon the earth, this is logical becuase Jesus was addressing a human audience, and indeed no earthly creature has this knowledge (although not a year goes by without someone claiming the day of judgement has arrived). Jesus extendes the answer, "not even the angels of heaven", by saying not even and making the distinction to earthly creatures as angels, they dwell closer to God and would therefore have a closer and more intimate knowledge of God and are therefore higher in the order of creation, but even they do not know of the day. Jesus progresses further, "nor the Son" who is in distiction to, and higher than the angels (Hebrews 1:4), does not know of this knowledge, but only the Father. Notice that the Son is higher than the angels who are higher than human creatures, we now need to ask the question who indeed is higher than the angels (creatured beings)? whoelse but God the creator himself.So, rather than this text denying that Jesus Christ is God, rather the progressive distinction made in fact supports this view. Again we need to realise that this is not a distinction of divinity but a distinction of relationship that has put this in place.
[Jesus knows all things revealed to him by the Father.]
11. "Jesus said to her, 'Stop clinging to me; for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God." John 20:17
In this verse Jesus refers to the Father as being not only our God, but his God also, and the question that would arrive from this is, if Jesus Christ had referred to God as his God also (and is not referring to himself), then how can Jesus be God? In the unitarian and non-biblical model of the deity this pretext would certianly be a fair statement, the Bible however reveals that there is more than one person that is referred to as God at any one time.
In the book of Hebrews Chapter 1(Heb 1:9), the supremacy of the Son is made clear, and one of the messianic prophecies quoted is from Psalm 45.
In speaking about the Son, God states,
"Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever..." Psalm 45:6 (KJV)
The following verse refers to God the Father as being his God -
"...therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee..." Psalm 45:7 (KJV)
So in fact, the reference to God the Father as being the God of Christ Jesus does not indicate a denial of divinty, rather as the Psalm demonstrates Jesus Christ the Son is also divine.
12. "And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and he knelt down and began to pray, saying, `Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but Thine be done." Luke 22:41-42
First of all we need to keep things in context, the actions of Jesus Christ are an example to humanity that, against all the odds even death, we should be obedient unto God. Indeed the example given by Jesus Christ testifies to this, it also worth noting that the twentieth century has more Christian martyrs than all the other centuries added together. Even to the point of death on a cross, he was willing to follow God, what better example of obedience from the human nature of Jesus Christ can be given. There is no denail of divinty here, rather a divine example, because Jesus Christ is unique in being the only person to have died for the gospel that he preached and was then raised to eternal life.
"To those who advocate the `Doctrine of Trinity' I request them to read Matthew 4:10" (Meherally)
"Then Jesus said to him, `Begone, Satan! For it is written,`You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" Matthew 4:10
As Meherally requested I have read Matthew 4:10, and I find no warning condemnation of the belief in the existance of a trinue God, indeed Jesus Christ must have clearly been God in order to have accepted worship from the people that he came into contact with. (See Answer 11 for further information)
For those such as Meherally who try to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, I would commend to him that he considers the following warning from the lips of Jesus Christ, whom he claims to follow as a prophet;
"that all should honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who sent him." John 5:23 (NKJV)
The words of Jesus Christ are clear enough, if Meherally really wishes to worship God, then he needs to reconsider how to go about it. By not glorifying Jesus Christ as Meherally claims to glorify the God the Father, he is condemning himself, it is his words against those of Jesus Christ. If Meherally claims to worship 'god', and does not worship Jesus Christ with equal reverance, then by this definition he does not worship the true God as revealed by all the prophets and Jesus Christ. We are then only left with one other alternative to whom the worship is being directed, Jesus Christ identifies this in Matthew 4:10 as being Satan.
For those who deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, there is the following warning;
"For who is the liar, he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is the antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father" 1 John 2:22,23 (KJV)