Chapter 39: The Scriptural View of Christ's Divinity
THE monstrous scientific paradox (as coming ages will regard
it) comprehended in the conception of an almighty, omnipresent, and
infinite Being, "the Creator of innumerable worlds," ("by him
[Christ] were all things made that were made," John i. 3-10), being
born of a frail and finite woman, as taught by both the oriental
and Christian religion, is so exceedingly shocking to every
rational mind, which has not been sadly warped, perverted, and
coerced into the belief by early psychological influence, that we
would naturally presume that those who, on the assumption of the
remotest possibility of its truth, should venture to put forth a
doctrine so glaringly unreasonable and so obviously untenable,
would of course vindicate it and establish it by the strongest
arguments and by the most unassailable and most irrefragable
proofs; and that in setting forth a doctrine so manifestly at war
with every law and analogy of nature and every principle of
science, no language should have been used, nor the slightest
admission made, that could possibly lead to the slightest degree of
suspicion that the original authors and propagators of this
doctrine had either any doubt of the truth of the doctrine
themselves, or were wanting in the most ample, the most abundant
proof to sustain it. No language, no text, not a word, not a
syllable should have been used making the most remote concession
damaging to the validity of the doctrine, so that not "the shadow
of a shade of doubt" could be left on any mind of its truth.
Omnipotent indeed should be the logic, and irresistible the proof,
in support of a thesis or a doctrine which so squarely confronts
and contradicts all the observation, all the experience, the whole
range of scientific knowledge, and the common sense of mankind. How
startling then, to every devout and honest professor of the
Christian faith ought to be the recent discovery of the fact, that
the great majority of the texts having any bearing upon the
doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ, -- a large majority of
the passages in the very book on which the doctrine is predicated,
and which is acknowledged as the sole warranty for such a belief,
-- are actually at variance with the doctrine, and actually amount
to its virtual denial and overthrow. For we find, upon a critical
examination of the matter, that at least three-fourths of the
texts, both in the Gospels and Epistles, which relate to the
divinity of Christ, specifically or by implication either teach a
different and a contrary doctrine, or make concessions entirely
fatal to it, by investing him with finite human qualities utterly
incompatible with the character and attributes of a divine or
infinite Being. How strange, then, how superlatively strange, that
millions should yet hold to such a strange "freak of nature," such
a dark relic of oriental heathenism, such a monstrous, foolish and
childish superstition, as that which teaches the infinite Creator
and "Upholder of the universe" could be reduced so near to
nonentity, as was required to pass through the ordinary stages of
human generation, human birth, and human parturition, -- a puerile
notion which reason, science, nature, philosophy, and common sense,
proclaim to be supremely absurd and self-evidently impossible, and
which even the Scriptures fail to sustain, -- a logical, scriptural
exposition, of which we will here present a brief summary: --
On the other hand, those few divine epithets or titles which
are used in application to Jesus Christ, as Lord, God, Savior,
Redeemer, Intercessor, &c., it has been shown were all used prior
to the birth of Christ, in application to beings known and
acknowledged to be men, and some of them are found so applied in
the bible itself; as, for example, Moses is called a God in two
instances, as we have shown, and cited the proof (in Ex. iv. 16,
vii. i), while the title of Lord is applied to man at this day,
even in Christian countries. And instances have been cited in the
bible of the term Savior being applied to men, both in the singular
and plural numbers. (See 2 Kings xiii. 5, and Neh. ix. 27.) Seeing,
then, that the most important divine titles which the writers of
the New Testament have applied to Jesus were previously used in
application to men, known and admitted to be such, it is therefore
at once evident that those titles do nothing toward proving him to
be the Great Divine Being, as the modern Christian world assume him
to be, even if we base the argument wholly on scriptural grounds.
While, on the other hand, we have demonstrated it to be an absolute
impossibility to apply with any propriety or any sense to a divine
infinite omnipotent Being those finite human qualities which are so
frequently used with reference to Jesus throughout the New
Testament. And hence, even if we should suppose or concede that the
writers of the New Testament did really believe him to be the great
Infinite Spirit, or the almighty, omnipotent God, we must conclude
they were mistaken, from their own language, from their own
description of him, as well as his own virtual denial and rejection
of such a claim, when he applied to himself, as he did in nine
cases out of ten, strictly finite human qualities and human titles
(as we have shown), wholly incompatible with the character of an
infinite divine Being. We say, from the foregoing considerations,
if the primitive disciples of Jesus did really believe him to be
the great Infinite, both their descriptions of him and his
description or representation of himself, would amply and most
conclusively prove that they were mistaken. At least we are
compelled to admit that there is either an error in applying divine
titles to Jesus, or often an error in describing his qualities and
powers, by himself and his original followers, as there is no
compatibility or agreement between the two. Divine titles to such
a being as they represent him to be, would be an egregious
misnomer. We say, then, that it must be clearly and conclusively
evident to every unbiased mind, from evidence furnished by the
bible itself, that if the divine titles applied to Jesus were
intended to have a divine significance, then they are misapplied.
Yet we would not here conclude an intentional misrepresentation in
the case, but simply a mistake growing out of a misconception, and
the very limited childish conception, of the nature, character, and
attributes of the "great positive Mind," so universally prevalent
in that semi-barbarous age, and the apparently total ignorance of
the distinguishing characteristics which separate the divine and
the human. We will illustrate: some children, on passing through a
wild portion of the State of Maine recently, reported they
encountered a bear; and to prove they could not be mistaken in the
animal, they described it as being a tall, slight-built animal,
with long slender legs, of yellowish auburn hue, a short, white,
bushy tail, cloven feet, large branchy horns, &c. Now, it will be
seen at once that, while their description of the animal is
evidently in the main correct, they had simply mistaken a deer for
a bear, and hence misnamed the animal.
- The essential attributes of a self-existing God and
Creator, and "Upholder of all things," are infinitude, omnipotence,
omniscience, and omnipresence, and any being not possessing all
these attributes to repletion, or possessing any quality or
characteristic in the slightest degree incompatible with any one of
these attributes, cannot be a God in a divine sense, but must of
necessity be a frail, fallible, finite being.
- Jesus Christ disclaims, hundreds of times over, directly or
impliedly, the inherent possession of any one of these divine
- His evangelical biographers have invested him with the
entire category of human qualities and characteristics, each one of
which is entirely unbefitting a God, and taken together are the
only distinguishing characteristics by which we can know a man from
- Furthermore, there issued from his own mouth various
sayings and concessions most fatal to the conception of his being
- His devout biographers have reported various actions and
movements in his practical life which we are compelled to regard as
absolutely irreconcilable with the infinite majesty, lofty
character, and supreme attributes of an almighty Being.
- These human qualities were so obvious to all who saw him
and all who became acquainted with him, that doubts sprang up among
his own immediate followers, which ultimately matured into an open
avowal of disbelief in his divinity in that early age.
- Upon the axiomatical principles of philosophy it is an
utter and absolute impossibility to unite in repletion the divine
and the human in the same being.
- And then Christ had a human birth.
- He was constituted in part, like human beings, of flesh and
- He became, on certain occasions, "an hungered," like
- He also became thirsty (John xix. 28), like perishable
- He often slept, like mortals, and thus became "to dumb
forgetfulness a prey."
- He sometimes became weary, like human beings. (See John
- He was occasionally tempted, like fallible mortals. (Matt.
- His "soul became exceeding sorrowful," as a frail, finite
being. (Matt. xxvi. 38.)
- He disclosed the weakness of human passion by weeping.
(John xi. 35.)
- He was originally an imperfect being, "made perfect
through suffering." (Heb. ii. 10.)
- He "increased in wisdom and stature" (Luke ii. 52);
therefore he must have possessed finite, changeable, mortal
- And he finally died and was buried, like all perishable
mortals. He could not possibly, from these considerations, have
been a God. It is utterly impracticable to associate with or
comprehend, in a God of infinite powers and infinite attributes,
all or any of these finite human qualities.
- Dark, intellectually dark, indeed, must be that mind, and
sunk, sorrowfully sunk in superstition, that can worship a being as
the great omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent "I AM," who
possessed all those qualities which were constitutionally
characteristic of the pious, the noble, the devout, the Godlike,
yet finite and fallible Jesus, according to his own admissions and
the representations of his own interested biographers.
- The only step which the disciples of the Christian faith
have made toward disproving or setting aside these arguments,
objections, and difficulties, is that of assigning the incarnate
Jesus a double or twofold nature -- the amalgamation of the human
and divine; a postulate and a groundless assumption, which we have
proved and demonstrated by thirteen arguments, which we believe to
be unanswerable, is not only absurd, illogical, and impossible, but
foolish and ludicrous in the highest degree. (See vol. ii.)
- This senseless hypothesis, and every other assumption and
argument made use of by the professors of the Christian faith to
vindicate their favorite dogma of the divinity of Jesus, we have
shown to be equally applicable to the demigods of the ancient
heathen, more than twenty of whom were invested with the same
combination of human and divine qualities which the followers and
worshippers of Jesus claim for him.
- Testimony of the Father against the divinity of the Son.
The Father utterly precludes the Son from any participation in the
divine essence, or any claim in the Godhead, by such declarations
as the following: "I am Jehovah, and beside me there is no Savior."
(Isaiah xliii. ii.) How, then, we would ask, can Jesus Christ be
the Savior? "I, Jehovah, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer." Then
Christ can be neither the Savior nor Redeemer. "There is no God
else beside me, a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me."
(Isaiah xiv. 21.) So the Father virtually declares, according to
"the inspired prophet Isaiah," that the Son, in a divine sense,
cannot be either God, Savior, or Redeemer. Again, "I am Jehovah,
thy God, and thou shalt not acknowledge a God beside me." (Hosea
xiii. 4.) Here Christ is not only by implication cut off from the
Godhead, but positively prohibited from being worshipped as God.
And thus the testimony of the Father disproves and sets aside the
divinity of the Son.
- Testimony of the mother. When Mary found, after a long
search, her son Jesus in the temple, disputing with the doctors,
and chided or reproved him for staying from home without the
consent of his parents, and declared, "thy father and I sought
thee, sorrowing" (Luke ii. 48), she proclaimed a twofold denial of
his divinity. In the first place it cannot be possible that she
regarded her son Jesus as "that awful Being, before whom even the
devout saints bow in trembling fear," when she used such language
and evinced such a spirit as she did. "Why hast thou thus dealt
with us?" (Luke ii. 48) is her chiding language. And then, when she
speaks of Joseph as his father, "thy father and I," she issues a
declaration against his divinity which ought to be regarded as
settling the question forever. For who could know better than the
mother, or rather, who could know but the mother, who the father of
the child Jesus was? And as she acknowledges it was Joseph, she
thus repudiates the story of the immaculate conception, which
constitutes the whole basis for the claim of his divinity. Hence
the testimony of the mother, also, disproves his title to the
- Testimony or disclaimer of the Son. We will show by a
specific citation of twenty-five texts that there is not one
attribute comprehended in or peculiar to a divine and infinite
Being, but that Christ rejects as applicable to himself -- that he
most conclusively disclaims every attribute of a divine Being, both
by precept and practice, and often in the most explicit language.
- By declaring, "The Son can do nothing of himself" (John v.
19), he most emphatically disclaims the attribute of omnipotence.
For an omnipotent Being can need no aid, and can accept of none.
- When he acknowledged and avowed his ignorance of the day
of judgment, which must be presumed to be the most important event
in the world's history, he disclaimed the attribute of omniscience.
"Of that day and hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the
Father only." (Matt. xxiv. 36.) Now, as an omniscient Being must
possess all knowledge, his avowed ignorance in this case is a
confession he was not omniscient, and hence not a God.
- And when he declares, "I am glad for your sakes I was not
there" (at the grave of Lazarus), he most distinctly disavows being
omnipresent, and thus denies to himself another essential attribute
of an infinite God.
- And the emphatic declaration, "I live by the Father" (John
vi. 57), is a direct disclaimer of the attributes of self-
existence; as a being who lives by another cannot be self-existent,
and, per consequence, not the infinite God.
- He disclaims possessing infinite goodness, another
essential attribute of a supreme divine Being. "Why callest thou me
good? there is none good but one, that is God." (Mark x. 18.)
- He disclaim divine honors, and directed them to the
father. "I honor my Father." (John viii. 49.) "I receive not honor
from men." (John v. 41.)
- He recommended supreme worship to the Father, and not to
himself. "The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit
and in truth." (John iv. 21.)
- He ascribed supreme dominion to the Father. "Thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever." (Matt. vi. 13.)
- It will be seen, from the foregoing text, that Christ also
acknowledges that the kingdom is the Father's. A God without a
kingdom would be a ludicrous state of things.
- He conceded supreme authority to the Father. "My doctrine
is not mine, but his that sent me." (John vii. 16.)
- He considered the Father as the supreme protector and
preserver of even his own disciples. "I pray that thou shouldst
keep them from the evil." (John xvii. 15.) What, omnipotence not
able to protect his own disciples?
- In fine, he humbly acknowledged that his power, his will,
his ministry, his mission, his authority, his works, his knowledge,
and his very life, were all from, and belonged to and were under
the control of the Father. "I can do nothing of myself;" "I came to
do the will of him that sent me;" "The Father that dwelleth within
me, he doeth the work," &c. "A God within a God," is an old pagan
- He declared that even spiritual communion was the work of
the Father. (See John vi. 45.)
- He acknowledged himself controlled by the Father. (See
John v. 30.)
- He acknowledged his entire helplessness and dependence on
the Father. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth
the Father do." (John v. 19.) 41. He acknowledged that even his
body was the work of his Father; in other words, that he was
dependent on his Father for his physical life. (See Heb. xvi. 5.)
- And more than all, he not only called the Father "the only
true God" (John xvii. 3), but calls him "my Father and my God."
(John xx. 17.) Now, it would be superlative nonsense to consider a
being himself a God, or the God, who could use such language as is
here ascribed to the humble Jesus. This text, this language, is
sufficient of itself to show that Christ could not have laid any
claim to the Godhead on any occasion, unless we degrade him to the
charge of the most palpable and shameful contradiction.
- He uniformly directed his disciples to pray, not to him,
but the Father. (See Matt. vi. 6.)
- On one occasion, as we have cited the proof (in Matt. xi.
ii), he even acknowledged John the Baptist to be greater than he;
while it must be patent to every reader that no man could be
greater than the almighty, supreme Potentate of heaven and earth,
in any sense whatever.
- Testimony of the disciples. Another remarkable proof of
the human sireship of Jesus is, that one of his own disciples --
ay, one of the chosen twelve, selected by him as being endowed with
a perfect knowledge of his character, mission, and origin -- this
witness, thus posted and thus authorized, proclaims, in unequivocal
language, that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Hear the language of
Philip addressed to Nathanael. "We have found him of whom Moses, in
the law and the prophets, did write -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son
of Joseph." (John i. 45.) No language could be more explicit, no
declaration more positive, that Jesus was the son of Joseph. And no
higher authority could be adduced to settle the question, coming as
it does from "headquarters." And what will, or what can, the devout
stickler for the divinely paternal origin of Jesus Christ do with
such testimony? It is a clincher which no sophistry can set aside,
no reasoning can grapple with, and no logic overthrow.
- His disciples, instead of representing him as being "the
only true God," often speak of him in contradistinction to God.
- They never speak of him as the God Christ Jesus, but as
"the man Christ Jesus." (i Tim. ii. 5.) "Jesus of Nazareth, a man
approved of God." (Acts ii. 23.) It would certainly be blasphemy to
speak of the Supreme Being as "a man approved of God." Christian
reader, reflect upon this text. "By that man whom he (the Father)
hath ordained" (Acts xvii. 3), by the assumption of the Godhead of
Christ, we would be presented with the double or twofold solecism,
1st. Of God being "ordained" by another God; and 2d. That of his
being blasphemously called a "Man."
- Paul's, declaration has been cited, that "unto us there is
but one God -- the Father." (i Cor. iv. 8.) Now, it is plain to
common sense, that if there is but one God, and that God is
comprehended in the Father, then Christ is entirely excluded from
- If John's declaration be true, that "no man hath seen God
at any time" (John iv. 12), then the important question arises, How
could Christ be God, as he was seen by thousands of men, and seen
hundreds of times?
- God the Father is declared to be the "One," "the Holy
One," "the only One," &c., more than one hundred times, as if
purposely to exclude the participation of any other being in the
- This one, this only God, is shown to be the Father alone
in more than four thousand texts, thirteen hundred and twenty-six
of which are found in the New Testament.
- More than fifty texts have been found which declare,
either explicitly or by implication, that God the Father has no
equal, which effectually denies or shuts out the divine equality of
the Son. "To whom will ye liken me, or shall I be equal with, saith
the holy One." (Isaiah XI. 25.)
- Christ in the New Testament is called "man," and "the Son
of man," eighty-four times, -- egregious and dishonorable
misnomers, most certainly, to apply to a supreme and infinite
Deity. On the other hand, he is called God but three times, and
denominates himself "the Son of God" but once, and that rather
- The Father is spoken of, in several instances, as standing
in the relation of God to the Son, as "the God of our Lord Jesus
Christ." (Acts iii. 2.) "Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." (i
Cor. xi. 3.) Now, the God of a God is a polytheistic, heathen
conception; and no meaning or interpretation, as we have shown, can
be forced upon such texts as these, that will not admit a plurality
of Gods, if we admit the titles as applicable to Christ, or that
his scriptural biographers intend to apply such a title in a
superior or supreme sense.
- Many texts make Christ the mere tool, agent, image,
servant, or representative of God, as Christ, "the image of God"
(Heb. i. 3), Christ, the appointed of God (Heb. iii. i), Christ,
"the servant of God" (Matt. xii. 18), &c. To consider a being thus
spoken of as himself the supreme God, is, as we have demonstrated,
the very climax of absurdity and nonsense. To believe "the servant
of God" is God himself, -- that is, the servant of himself, -- and
that God and his "image" are the same, is to descend within one
step of buffoonery.
- And then it has been ascertained that there are more than
three hundred texts which declare, either expressly or by
implication, Christ's subordination to and dependence on the
Father, as, "I can do nothing of myself;" "Not mine, but his that
sent me;" "I came to do the will of him that sent me" (John iv.
34); "I seek the will of my Father," &c.
- And more than one hundred and fifty texts make the Son
inferior to the Father, as "the Son knoweth not, but the Father
does" (Mark viii. 32); "MY Father is greater than I;" "The Son can
do nothing of himself" (John v. 19), &c.
- There are many divine titles applied to the Father which
are never used in reference to the Son, as "Jehovah," "The Most
High," "God Almighty," "The Almighty," &c.
In like manner we must conclude, from the repeated instances
in which Christ's biographers have ascribed to him all the foibles,
frailties, and finite qualities and characteristics of a human
being, that if they have in any instance called him a God in a
divine sense, it is an egregious misnomer. Their description of him
makes him a man, and but a man, whatever may have been their
opinion with respect to the propriety of calling him a God. And if
the two do not harmonize, the former must rule the judgment in all
cases. The truth is, the Jewish founders of Christianity
entertained such a low, narrow, contracted, and mean opinion of
Deity and the infinite distinction and distance between the divine
and the human, that their theology reduced him to a level with man;
and hence they usually described him as a man.