Categories: 2023, Dan McClellan, New New Atheism, Other AuthorsPublished On: April 9, 2023

There has been a lot of debate surrounding the identity of Jesus, particularly whether or not he identifies as God in the New Testament. Aron Ra, a prominent figure in the conversation, has expressed his frustrations with the way people have been talking over him and not engaging his concerns. However, upon closer examination of the text, it becomes clear that Jesus does not identify himself as God in the New Testament.

Distinguishing Jesus from God

At no point in the New Testament does Jesus explicitly identify himself as God. In fact, he distinguishes himself from God in every instance. While there is figurative language that talks about Oneness and Jesus being the authorized bearer of God’s name, these ideas are borrowed from intermediary figures that were already well-known in Jewish circles during the Greco-Roman period. Moreover, they were never understood to be identifying these intermediary figures as God themselves.

Examining John 10:30

Many people quote John 10:30 as evidence that Jesus identifies himself as God. However, Aaron Ross correctly points out that the author of John has Jesus saying, “My followers should be one with me, the exact same way that I am one with God” elsewhere. In chapter 17, Jesus prays that his followers become one with him and with God in the exact same way that Jesus is one with God. This Oneness is not a Oneness of substance or Essence, but rather a Oneness of purpose and perfection. The author has Jesus praying that his followers may be perfect in one, as he is one with God.

Differentiating Oneness

While some may argue that this is a different kind of Oneness, there is nothing in the text that indicates it is a different kind of Oneness. In fact, the text repeatedly asserts that it is the exact same Oneness. To arrive at the conclusion that it is a different kind of Oneness, one must presuppose that it cannot be the same kind of Oneness. This is not a data-driven approach, but rather a dogmatic approach that imposes outside assumptions on the text.

Closing

In conclusion, while there is no explicit identification of Jesus as God in the New Testament, the concept of Oneness is present. However, it is a Oneness of purpose and perfection, not a Oneness of substance or Essence. This interpretation is supported by a close reading of the text and an objective approach to the data.

Transcription from Dan McClellan.

Full Transcription:

Hey everybody, I can sympathize with Aron Ra’s frustrations here. These folks are talking over him, they’re not letting him finish, they’re not even pretending to engage his concerns, much less in good faith. His statement is 100% accurate: at absolutely no point in the New Testament does Jesus identify as God. In absolutely every instance, Jesus distinguishes himself from God. Now, there is figurative language that talks about Oneness, that talks about Jesus being the authorized bearer of God’s name, but these things are being borrowed from intermediary figures that are already well-known within Greco-Roman period Jewish circles, and they were never understood to be identifying these intermediary figures as God themselves.

Now, the first response is to quote John 10:30 and say, “I and the Father are one,” and Aaron Ross correctly points out that the author of John elsewhere has Jesus saying, “My followers should be one with me, the exact same way that I am one with God.” Now, it’s not in the same chapter, it’s in chapter 17 and intercessory prayer, but Jesus prays in verse 11, verse 21, verse 22, verse 23, and verse 24 that his followers become one with him and with God in the exact same way that Jesus is one with God. So, that Oneness that is being described in John 10:30, if the author of John is in any way, shape, or form consistent, is not a Oneness of substance or Essence, but is a Oneness of purpose, of perfection, that they may be perfect in one, as the author has Jesus praying in John 17. There is no other way to explain this without imposing outside assumptions on the text, without telling the text what it is and is not allowed to mean. So, folks are going to say, “Well, that’s a different kind of Oneness,” but there’s absolutely nothing anywhere in the text that indicates it’s a different kind of Oneness.

The text itself repeatedly asserts that it’s the exact same Oneness. One can only arrive at the conclusion that it’s a different kind of Oneness if one presupposes that it cannot be the same kind of Oneness, and that is not the data regarding what the texts say. That is the dogma regarding what the texts are allowed to say.

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