1: The Flatlander and the Sphere
Some people struggle with Jesus being God; being the Word become flesh. I’ve never had this issue, but maybe it’s (what we call “the Trinity”) worth addressing.
It is helpful to consider what happens when a lower-dimension being encounters a higher-dimension being. When this occurs, strange things happen for the lesser being.
For example, a 2D person who encounters a “sphere” would see a circle. If the sphere had a ripple on its area of contact, it would seem to the 2D person as 2 dots which are somehow connected (touch one and the other reacts, much as with quantum entanglement), even though on a higher sensory level, there is indeed a 3D connection.
God, being beyond both time and space (having created them) will be difficult to understand for us in some ways, but there are concepts that we can use to approximate various characteristics. If you’ve taken any genetics classes, consider an apple.
The DNA signature is the same throughout. The skin will have the same DNA (coding) as the flesh, and also the same as the seeds. They will all be Apple X. However, they are also distinct parts, with widely different properties, though they are also, at the same time, the exact same at the most basic level.
Or consider a hamster born in a cage. To get food, it presses a button. Outside the cage is a human. If the hamster could think of the human, it might think, “This human must press a button to get its food, too.” This would not be correct, as the contingent entity (hamster) is considering an absolute entity (human), and they don’t follow the same rulesets, nor should they. Or consider a fish in a spherical tank, which thinks that peripheral views are always curved and distorted. This same fault leads people to ask, “If God created the universe, who created God?”
To beings constricted by time, it might at first seem illogical or impossible, but probably not so much after all—it is, in fact, a very appropriate way to explain relationships beyond what we can currently experience.
2: Ho Theos
While I won’t delve into it, the concept of Jesus as ho theos and also as the son of God is dissimilar to (that I have encountered) all other gods and fairly unique. Certainly unique enough that it very much upset the Jews! Many people don’t realize that the Bible begins with the narration of God saying, “Let US make man in our image.” The form of God used in many passages is a singular-plural, which is unusual. Philosophically, God is one What, but three Whos. That is, one Being, but three Persons. Compare that to me: when you ask me WHAT I am, and I can say, “Well I’m a human being with a brain, lungs, etc.,” but it doesn’t answer WHO I am.
But just as I am a being with one center of self-consciousness, whom I call I, God is described as a being with 3 centers, each one which can say, “I”— I am the father, I am the son; I am the Holy Spirit.” So the propositional philosophy there is quite interesting. Even more interesting is that the Jews recorded this ritualistically, but when a man made the claim to be a center of consciousness of a plural-singular God, were absolutely flabbergasted.
I think the argument for Jesus’ center of consciousness is fairly easy from the Biblical narrative, but more specifically can be argued as having the knowledge that “I” am the “Son of man” (Dan 7), and the “Son of God” (Luke 20:9-on, Mark 13, second verse, and Matthew 11:27, for example).
The Spirit having a centrality of its own can be referenced from John 7, 14, 15, 16, Galatians 4, and Romans 8. For example, John 14 seems to allow us to use the transitive property of equality to ascertain the same personhood-state (that is, the same level of distinct, yet different consciousness) between Jesus and the Spirit.
Importantly, the New Testament writings distinguish between God the Father and Jesus. “Ho theos,” or “God” in the writing, is important here, I believe. If God=Father, how can Jesus be called God without being called “father?” Such would overturn the distinct center of consciousness. There is a wonderful book on this by Dr. Murray Harris called “Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus,” though you have to know a little Greek to read it, as swathes of it are in Greek.
Anyway, the way to show this equality and oneness while still showing distinction was done with the word “kyrios,” which we translate as “Lord.” One example of this polyfunctional nature of being-with-distinction is shown in the 8th chapter of 1 Corinthians, where Paul said,
“5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”
In other places, the distinction of self-consciousness is not affirmed positively in order to instead affirm Jesus as indeed being “ho theos,” which is important with cults like the INC (a religion from the Philippines) being around. Romans 9:5, for example, goes full-steam ahead in making sure that we see this plainly. I think that passages like Titus 2:13 and Hebrews 1:8-12 are very important in such regard, myself. For the distinction of personality coupled with the concept of God/Father/Son, Philippians 2:5-7 is pretty iron-clad.
3: “Our Image” and Plural Nouns
I have found out that Genesis 1:26 and other verses (noted above) can throw some people for a loop. Gen 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” What’s with “Our” instead of “My?”
We don’t usually refer to God in the plural, yet God refers to Himself, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus as one but also distinct parts, somewhat like an apple core, peel, and flesh all still being apple, yet distinct parts. From the beginning, God knew that Jesus would be, and in fact ALREADY WAS.
In John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” It is strange to think that Jesus was before the world knew Him, and that God is plural and yet one, but that it why we see “Let Us make man in Our image,” and not “Let Me make man in My image.”
Often God uses a singular noun to refer to Himself to emphasize that He is the one and only God; the Creator (look up Deut 32:39). The Bible often uses plural nouns for God, the most common one being the Hebrew word “elohiym,” (a plural form of deity/god): “In the beginning God [elohiym] created the Heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
It might surprise you to know that elohiym is translated more than 400 times in the Bible as “gods.” For example, “And the people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods.” (Jos 24:16)