An update on my Bible study group's Christology study
On December 19, the small group Bible study I lead completed what turned out to be a 110 session, nearly 2-1/2 year review of the New Testament's witness as to the question of whether Jesus was God. In total, we examined approximately 450 passages comprising more than 40% of all the verses of the NT.
The concluding session of our NT review on Sunday contained something of a mid-season assessment of our discoveries to-date (we'll launch a review of 125-150 OT passages in January). The consensus view of those present distinguished between Jesus the human being and Jesus the resurrected, glorified one who sits at the right hand of God. No one believed the NT teaches that Jesus was God while on earth. Instead, group members said, the NT makes a clear distinction between God and the person Jesus through whom God worked.
On the other side of the resurrection Jesus was no longer a human being, but rather the one raised by God to a unique and eternal position of authority. Even in such exalted state, however, according to the mid-season view of group members, Jesus wasn't God's equal, but rather one elevated above everyone and everything other than God.
Study participants expressed unresolved questions after their first 110 hours of discussion - for example, about the verses and passages in the NT that declare the pre-existence of Jesus - and welcomed such an inconclusive status. In fact, throughout our journey I've quasi-demanded that the group not reach any definitive conclusions about our core question until we've completed our biblical review. Hence, yesterday's observations were clearly interim, not final, in nature.
The group member who came into the study with Christological views most inline with Trinitarian theology voiced the most obvious change of position. In the early months of our study, he spoke clearly and with authenticity about Jesus as God. He now believes Jesus was not God, but was a human on earth, but also (somehow) the one through whom God created everything (the pre-existence material) and the one who now reigns with God, just below God in eternal authority.
You might want to credit/blame me as the group's leader and the church's pastor for both that gentleman's change of views and the group's consensus opinion. The truth is not once have I declared to the group my views on the question, I have assiduously avoided drawing broad conclusions from the texts we've reviewed, and I have made every effort to point out the verses/passages the various sides of the debate rely on to support their views. Hence, the biblical text and our group's very active discussion of it have most affected his views, not I.
You may strongly disagree with my Christology; if you do, I respect your views and celebrate the faith that undergirds them. But I hope you will celebrate with me the good news of a group of lay Christians investing 2-1/2 years of study (so far) in intentional Bible study on such a specific and profound matter.
I will soon post a link to the OT texts we will review in the next phase of our study. Thanks again to those who responded in another thread to my request for suggested texts.