Why was the identity of Jesus so important to early Christian churches?
I'm in a religions course and I'm currently writing an essay on the first few chapters of my reading. I understand that different individuals, such as Arius, believed that Jesus was separate from God. Others believed they were unified. But the main question I'm trying to answer is why the distinction is so important. Can anybody please help
- SamwiseLv 74 weeks agoFavorite Answer
As early Christianity spread, many people with non-Jewish backgrounds became converts, and naturally tried to understand Christian doctrine in ways that were based on the other belief systems they knew. Even before the Arian controversy, for example, there was a serious dispute with people who tried to adapt Christian stories and teaching to fit into the Gnostic philosophy, which argued that the material universe was inherently evil rather than fundamentally good, as stated in Genesis 1.
The concept of a "triad" of divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is derived directly from Gospel accounts of Jesus' teaching, and it was generally accepted by most Christians. But when Arius began writing devotional poetry and it began to circulate, it became obvious that he regarded the Father and the Son (at least) as DIFFERENT gods, with Jesus (the Son) in a subordinate role. (Arianism is also known as "subordinationism.")
This elicited a strong negative reaction from other Christians who knew and accepted the Jewish tradition of belief in one God (monotheism). Arianism was fundamentally polytheistic. The importance of the dispute was perhaps magnified because a new Roman Emperor, Constantine, had not only ended his predecessors' severe persecution of Christians, but also declared Christianity a favored religion. As a good Roman general, Constantine insisted they get their theology sorted out, and he called (and formally convened) a Council of the Christian leaders, summoned from throughout the Empire, to deal with it.
He was probably very surprised at the result. The Arian polytheism was probably closer to what a Roman would expect--and he'd already been close to the Arian leaders, including having them tutor his son and heir. But the Council opted for monotheism; although the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were distinct and were each, individually, God, there was nevertheless just the one God.
It took decades to sort that out in good philosophical terms. The Cappadocian Fathers who did so based it on a distinction between the concepts of "person" and "being"; three divine Persons, one divine Being. That distinction makes no sense with respect to ordinary humans, but there's no logical reason a purely human limit should apply to God.
Meanwhile, the two sides continued to argue over the matter, and to contend for influence with the succession of Emperors. The reason it remains a big deal is the usual one for any controversy: it was the basis of a nasty fight. Moreover, this particular fight actually led to an institutionalized definition of Christian orthodoxy, something that wasn't really possible until the Church got an institutional foothold in the first place.
The grand Arian controversy had opened.
That this should have been possible at all, three centuries after Christ, shows how slow the Church had been towards exact dogmatic definition; it had been, and always has been, engaged on something else.
-- Charles Williams, "Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church"
- PaulLv 74 weeks ago
If Jesus is God, then everything He taught MUST be absolutely true. If not, then He is just one of the hundreds of founders of religions, who each taught their own opinions, without any objective reason to expect that what they taught was true.
- MalcolmLv 64 weeks ago
It goes to the nature of the Holy Three. expressed as deity, divine nature and godhead.
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
Har to tell, since he was actually IMAGINARY
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- EddieJLv 74 weeks ago
Whether or not something is important is nothing but an opinion.
Of course, opinions can be shared by other people, but, even when 2 or more people come to the same conclusion -- such as deciding who to vote for, for example -- they are NOT required to have the same reason behind their decision.
Religious believers tend to consider their beliefs, whatever they are, to be important. So, they have to be able to say what their belief is, one way or another.
Each individual may have a different reason for thinking the distinction is so important. But, generally, it's so they can state their belief and indoctrinate their children into the same belief.
- 4 weeks ago
Christians are commanded to worship and serve only God (Lk 4:8).
So it's very important to determine if Jesus is God. Let's say he's really God, but you don't think he is and therefore don't worship him, that would be a mistake. Let's say he's not God, but you think he is and thus worship him, then you'd be also mistaken by worshiping someone other than God.
It's also important for one's salvation.
Jn 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [he], you will indeed die in your sins.”
Jesus basically was telling those Jews that if they didn't believe he was the Great I AM (i.e. God; ref v. 58), then they would go to hell.
- EnigmaLv 64 weeks ago
If you get Jesus wrong, you get it all wrong and getting it wrong can affect your salvation. The commission of what later became known as the KJV got it right about Jesus,being "God's only BEGOTTEN SON". Jesus also referred to Himself as the Son of Man. Jesus Christ was/is both divine and human while in the flesh here on earth. He ascended to God's right hand,not permitted for humans but for God Himself.
- 4 weeks ago
Because the early christians didn't want to be the laughing stock of yet another demigod cult in Rome and so they had to up their ante by equating Jesus to be the same person of the jewish mythology. Various "isms" broke out over this such as modalism and unitarianism and other anathema which were ultimately rectified at Nicene and Constantinople.
- Flametard76Lv 54 weeks ago
This reason - Jesus NEVER said one thing about a specific mission and was always
vague or near nondescript on his specific mission .
Jesus never said a word about vicarious substitutionary replacement , atonement for sins , dying on a cross for mans sins , being a sacrifice sent by his father to atone for mans sins or redemption of sin thru his a sacrifice on a cross.
The most he says about redemption is Luke 21/28 but that's about redemption being near in the future or his next coming .
So since Jesus never says anything specifically about his mission it's up for debate .
Saint Paul was the one who makes up all the magic issues of a dead Jew WHO
mostly talked specifics about Jewish issues and laws and not about a future religion based on his Supposed life as the son of god .
Jesus isn't the son of the Jewish god according to Jews and surely not the
son of Allah is he ?
- Anonymous4 weeks ago
When you're defining the specifics of a cult you're superimposing over real, historical people, it's important to get your story straight.
Edit: What fresh hell is this? I typed a full sentence, but Yahoo only took half of it.