Hello! A friend of mine was raised Catholic–went to Catholic school throughout his years, etc.–but is now wrestling with his faith. He believes in God, but can’t seem to reconcile with the divinity of Christ. He asked for guidance in the matter, and, frankly, I’ve never not believed and so I don’t know what to say.
Any suggestions as to how to broach this subject and give a good answer? I feel a lot is hanging in the balance, and I want to help if I can.
It’s hard to settle on any one (or few) thing(s) to say, since we don’t know any specifics on what he’s having trouble with.
In my view, the simplest thing to do would be to sit down with him at a computer, log into catholic.com, and use the site to answer his questions. There are articles, videos, audio; lots of materials to answer any questions. It should be especially easy since your friend is clearly open and interested in learning.
The divinity of Christ. Well I can go over a few things from the bible that show His divinity. However if one wants to know the divinity of Christ in their hearts, then I would suggest plenty of adoration.
(Of course these will be biblical references, so he might discredit a little more with the idea that that the bible is biased. Even though it is a religious text, it still is the most reliable source for Jesus. Also there are non christian writings that match with what it says, I just wouldn’t know where to find them.)
According to secular reports even the 2nd century Christians worshiped Christ as God.
First, I would look at the Resurrection of Jesus. In the resurrection we find the Glory of Jesus revealed. There are the Roman Records of his crucifixion, which shows Jesus did exist and that He was killed, however we believe He rose which shows His divinity more than anything else.
Then, we can look at why he was put to death. Well, it was mainly because He claimed to be God. In John 8: 24, 58, Jesus uses the same language to say who he was that God did in Exodus 3:14. This irked the Jews because this name was prohibited, and not to be used by one other than God. The Jews wanted to stone Jesus for this crime.
Another thing we can look at are the commands of Jesus. What Jesus says, becomes. Just as, what the father says, becomes “Let there be light, and there was light”. Mark 2:11 shows that when Jesus told the paralytic to get up and he did. John 11:43 sows that when Jesus told Lazarus to come out, he was resurrected. There are many more of such events. When Jesus commands something, it happens. Because the Word of God are words that transform reality, not words that simply describe reality. This shows that He must have divine power.
You can also look at John 6 which talks about the bread of life. This is another event that he talks with divine power, or when he forgives sins in Luke 7:48. These are all things that Jews would’ve fought against. This would be blasphemous if He was not God.
Jesus, shown throughout the bible, is divine and He knows it. Most of the early Christians were martyred for belief in Him. Would they do this if it was not so? Of course not! Their martyrdom shows how powerful Jesus’ words were.
There are many ways to know that Jesus is divine, but to know in the mind is much easier than to truly know in the heart. That is why the Eucharist is so important, and why it is so imperative to go to adoration and whatnot.
Thank you to all who responded! I appreciate the support and especially the specific Biblical references I can offer.
dshix–you asked what my friend is specifically having trouble with. He voiced his difficulty in understanding that Jesus is any different from any other prophet, that Jesus is indeed God as well as human.
quandy57–those are excellent reference points. Thanks very much! It’s difficult knowing these things oneself and then trying to think on the spot of the specific instances that illuminate Christ’s divinity. Thank you! I should also say, yes, absolutely–you’re right about the adoration. I might mention that to my friend.
NeedImprovement–yes, thank you! That is, indeed, a key reference I’ll have to bring up.
grannymh–thank you for that down-to-basics equation there!
If you want to approach the question philosophically, C. S. Lewis offered one of the best descriptions of the person of Christ I’ve ever read:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
…if that person is simply seeking to know Scriptures… that’s way easy… if that person is seeking to get Convicted… well… only his heart/mind and the Holy Spirit can work on it…
Here are a few passages that are unavoidable:
[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”
8 But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:6-8)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4** In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind**.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (St. John 1:1-4, 11-13, 14)
1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 St. John 4:1-3)
…in the passage in** Hebrews **we find the Revelation that God (the Father) Himself Calls Jesus, the Son, God–but not only that, He (the Father) Commands that the angels (those creatures that are in the presence of God) must Worship the Son. If there’s anything we Know from the Old Testament’s Revelation is that Yahweh God is One and that He Alone must be Worshipped–Commanding His Servants to Worship the Son can only but demonstrate that the Son is Divine!
Then we have St. John’s Gospel–it opens in a fantastic singularity: the Word, that has Existed from the Beginning (meaning: without a beginning/origin) is God and Existed with God. This of course brings us to the Old Testament: ‘no other god with Me, before Me or after Me’–God Existed as God (the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) from the Beginning! But even more is Revealed: the Word is Life; the Word Came to the world (the Word Became Incarnate: man), to His Own people (Jews) and they rejected Him (the Immanuel, the Messiah, Jesus, the God that Saves) and He (the Word) then gave the Power to Become children of God to all who would Believe in Him!
Finally we have a round-about… **1 St. John **Reveals that not all who claim to be/speak for Yahweh God are in deed in Fellowship with God; it cautions that we must identify what they Believe about the Word: if they profess that Christ Came in the flesh, from God, then they are of God… if they deny Christ, then they are the anti-Christ!
If Jesus were not Divine, why would there be a need to singularize His humanity as part of God’s Salvific Plan? Note the emphasis: the spirit of the anti-Christ (Satan) rejects Christ and wants man to believe that God did not do what God did: the Word Became flesh!
…yet, it is not enough to consider Christ as a man… we must understand that Christ Came, from God, in the flesh!