Who is Jesus Christ?

An excerpt from Jesus: Fallen? The Human Nature of Christ Examined from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective.

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“Who is Jesus Christ?” Is He a human being or a divine being? Does it matter what we believe about Him? Today books are written, movies are made, and discussions by “biblical scholars” are televised portraying Jesus Christ as plainly human. It seems that our rationalistic mind can no longer accept a human being who also happens to be a divine being. Union of human and divine is puzzling to our intelligence. Thus not only we don’t defend our faith, but we embrace any opinion about Him as a “personal matter” having no bearing upon one’s salvation.

Yet true faith about Jesus Christ is crucial for our salvation. The Lord Himself had asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And again He had asked His disciples, this time directly, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:13-19). The Apostle Peter answered on behalf of the Apostles, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Lord built His Church upon the rock of the true confession of faith in Him. For this reason the Church has fought strenuously to safeguard the true faith, because our salvation depends on it.

Our faith is that Christ is both divine and human. If Christ were a mere human being, then He could not save us, because He could not unite us with God the Father, since He Himself would not be united with Him. If on the other hand He would be purely divine, then again He could not unite us with Him, because the gap between us would remain infinite. Therefore Christ had to be both human and divine, bridging the uncreated divine Being and us humans, the created beings. What we believe about Jesus Christ is pertinent to our salvation.

It is therefore incumbent upon us to learn our faith and defend it with our very life, as the Martyrs and Confessors of the faith did. Not to insist on the whole truth, on account of love and unity, even if, invariably, this would alienate us and cut us off from Christians of different beliefs, would be a betrayal of our faith. Real love is shown by wanting everyone to arrive at salvation. To compromise the truth on account of “love” is a modern, humanistic invention. The Church did not stop proclaiming the truth lest it offended others. True unity is in truth—or not at all.

A myriad of opinions have been expressed about Christ. We cannot say, Who knows? or say, These are mysteries, or, It doesn’t matter. We have an obligation to defend the truths of our faith. We should therefore reflect hard on our permissiveness and tolerance of teachings clearly opposed to Orthodox doctrine. We should be consistent in our beliefs. When, for example, on one hand we readily confess Christ to be “true God of true God,” and on the other hand we say that all “monotheistic” religions worship the same God, aren’t we inconsistent?

We should have a sufficient knowledge about Christ, and strengthen our faith that He is truly a divine being in a human form. If, as the Apostle states, we must stand up and give an account of our faith, we should be able to do it, even at the risk of offending others. Truth unfortunately divides—it does not unite. We should of course “speak the truth in love”– but speak it!

 

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