Probably John 1:1 is the most controversial verse in the Bible. I grew up Roman Catholic and never doubted that Jesus was God. When I grew up and entered the military, I found several people who not only didn’t believe Jesus was God, but didn’t care. And, it didn’t stop there. Later, I would be visited by people who appeared very sincere in their beliefs, but they believed Jesus was either a mere man chosen by God or that Jesus was a god, but not the God. I have several blogs on the theology of the first chapter of John, but, for now, I just want to talk about what is on my heart as it pertains to this idea.
What does the term “Word” mean to you? For me, it has the meaning of expression. If I wish to express myself, most often I use words, and Jesus said that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” When God speaks Jesus comes forth. That is how I see it. I have read that the ancient Jews often used the title “Word of God” to translate instances when God seemed to appear to folks in the Old Testament. These writings were called Jewish Targums or Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Scriptures, and they represented authentic Jewish understanding or interpretations of the Scriptures. Some targums would have Abraham trusting in the “Word of God” in the targum, but in the Hebrew Scriptures it was YHWH rather than the Aramaic Word of God.
What I see here is that when God wished to communicate to men, it was through his Word, the very One who became Jesus. Do you see what this means? It means that the very One, whom the Jews referred to as God, is the same One John speaks of in John 1:1, and who became man in John 1:14. I’ve tried to look at this differently and see the logic behind other points of view, but I simply cannot. I see John painting a very clear picture of who the Word/Jesus really is. John calls him God, says he is our Creator and claims that we owe our very lives (light) to him. How else should I see this? Is there another way? I don’t see one. I have to be honest about this; I simply do not see the argument other folks have that Jesus is not God. The Scriptures are very clear.
Does this mean that I think folks who don’t share my theology, that they aren’t Christian? No, I don’t believe that. Some brethren see this as a litmus test of who is a Christian and who is not, but I don’t think that is so. For one thing I am someone who loves theology. I eat that stuff up. It’s great. I thank God every day for giving me a hunger for his word and a desire to know what it all means. I am a Sunday school teacher, and I know many folks simply do not have the gift I have. They are able to see the meaning of a difficult Scripture once I show them, but often they cannot see it on their own. Their gifts lie in other areas, and believe me, they have a lot they could (and do) teach me, especially as it pertains to helping others. At times I simply do not see the need others have, until it is made plane to me by someone else. Then I see! I think it is like this with theology for lots of folks. So, if someone who is not theologically inclined is told Jesus is not God and are given a few Scriptures that seems to back up that idea, and they believe what they are shown, how can I say these folks aren’t Christian, especially when they would probably wrap rings around me when it comes to seeing and expressing the love of God through satisfying the needs of others? Doesn’t Jesus say his followers are known, not by what they believe, but by their fruits—i.e. of the Spirit? Sure, “knowledge” is one of those fruits, but what good is knowledge without the application? I might be able to point someone in the right direction theologically, but I need a lot of guidance when it comes to recognizing the needs of others.
So, is it important to know the truth, if Jesus, who is the Word, is really God as John seems to claim? Yes, I believe it is very important, simply because it is the truth, and Jesus says the Truth (Jesus) shall set me free. Nevertheless, do I believe that the knowledge of this truth is important enough to keep me from being a Christian or a child of God, if I don’t understand it properly? No, I do not. Frankly, I believe my Jesus is bigger than that. He is my Savior even when I don’t completely understand the Scriptures correctly! What do you think?