What does "son of God" really mean?

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Sakhaiva on Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:20 pm

DeavonReye wrote:Often times, I DO try to make sense of a religious system that I once believed in, and now that I have gone away from it, I DO tend to go back to it trying to figure out why I did. . . and why others do, too. I must admit that it isn't fair to those who still believe it. However, if my opinions are faulty, or actually have no value [in what the actual believe is about], then I'm not sure why someone would get upset about those types of comments. If what is said is false, correct. It just seems that when topics get brought up, it seems to cause offense, . . . and I have to wonder why.

I know I'm coming into a conversation late... but what the heck.

Deavon, I don't mind questions at all. You ask questions I've pondered myself at some point. Learning involves effort and struggle, right? And we all know, or most of us do, that I have - at some point - claimed to be every religion and non-religion under the Sun. Why would I take offense at the path of others when I am, by no means, faithful.

I have to admit that I tend to become frustrated when people seem to paint several thousand years, and countless people groups, with the same paintbrush. Looking to Catholicism alone, there are differences between contemplative orders (Trappists & Carmelites) and the more active orders (Dominicans). Now add the rest of the rainbow: Episcopalians, various Lutheran groups, the Progressive movement.... etc etc etc.... my point is, there is a wide array of flavors within christianity.

People like Joel Osteen, Sarah Palin and other loud-mouthed 'prosperity gospel' folk (Baptifundagelicals) hog most of the press, so they are easy to point at... but dig deeper, you might discover great jewels like Brother Lawrence, Sara Miles, Ann Belford Ulanov, Thomas Merton... souls I admire. To throw their energy away with the rest is, in my opinion, heartbreaking.

Back to your OP

[How can Jesus be the Son of God]

According to Lutheran theology, he was all God and all flesh at the same time. He was Son of God AND Son of Man. Sort of makes the op that much more bewildering & does not answer "how". (Religion involves mystery and I'm rather glad of it.)

Maybe a more interesting question would be "why"? Consider, if I were some sort of deity, I don't think I'd want to dirty my spirit up by becoming flesh. As a human, I can honestly say that I would not be thrilled with the idea of exchanging my opposing thumbs to become something a little lower on the food chain. Especially if I knew mistreatment were in the picture.

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Beribee on Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:57 pm

Nice response, Sak....very well said!!

Deavon, if you have questions, then by all means ASK them. As a Christian, I love reading other people's questions. I might not have an answer, but your questions make me think......which is something I believe helps me along my spiritual path.

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:01 am

lets sum things up so far:
in the ancient middle east-son of god was a title denoting Kingship

in the synoptic gospels -Jesus followers worship him after declaring him to be the Son of God

in John, Jesus is declared to be the physical manifestation of an aspect of God-the only begotten only unique Son of God
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:30 am

Deavon, I may have mentioned this book to you before. If so, chalk that up to faulty old fart memory.

My favorite used book site www.abebooks.com has a couple of copies for only $8.00 each. Even with shipping, you'll pay less than from Amazon. I highly recommend Abebooks. They are terrific.

Considering your present mindset, I think you might find David Fideler's Jesus Christ, Sun of God: Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism extremely interesting. Notice that's not "Son of God" but "SUN of God."

No spoilers, but I expect you'll find Fideler's analysis of the loaves and fishes event particularly interesting.

Lemme know what you think if you read it.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:13 pm

Thanks for the comments, and Dot, that might be an interesting book to read!

Davelaw, as for the "son denoting kingship", I guess I'm not following. Not everyone who is a son has royal blood.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:26 am

son of a god denoting kingship

not all the gods had children

but think Chinese=if you were a son of Heaven-you had a divine right to rule
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:17 pm

No disrespect meant when I say that I simply can't get into the whole Jesus as King thing.

Way back when, yeah, that fit into my Catholic context--King of kings, Lord of lords and all that.

Guess I'm just too weird and far out spiritually speaking these days.

Sorry, Dave, if that seems flippant. I know that Christian views of the roles of Jesus are integral to your beliefs.

I think a person has to be Christian and buy into the orthodox context to find Jesus as King at all meaningful. A number of liberal Christians I've known agree more with me about the idea.

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:08 pm

its easier to grok if you are thinking either King of Israel or in opposition to Caesar
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:39 pm

Davelaw wrote:son of a god denoting kingship

not all the gods had children

but think Chinese=if you were a son of Heaven-you had a divine right to rule

I understand the "son of a god as the kingship", but can Jesus be a "son" if he always existed? That's what I was trying to figure out. It isn't as though Jesus was born of god and will inherit the kingdom when "god dies". So the "kingship of the son" seems like an oddity is this setup.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:54 pm

Davelaw wrote:its easier to grok if you are thinking either King of Israel or in opposition to Caesar

Oh, I agree, Dave. That idea gave the early Christians a powerful feeling of solidarity and identification with each other and with their developing faith. We are so NOT-Roman with their various deities and emperor-as-deity, in short.

Just isn't a concept that's useful for me. But why would it be? I'm not a Christian.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:36 am

DeavonReye wrote:
Davelaw wrote:son of a god denoting kingship

not all the gods had children

but think Chinese=if you were a son of Heaven-you had a divine right to rule

I understand the "son of a god as the kingship", but can Jesus be a "son" if he always existed? That's what I was trying to figure out. It isn't as though Jesus was born of god and will inherit the kingdom when "god dies". So the "kingship of the son" seems like an oddity is this setup.
in Xian terms, the WORD-the LOGOS always existed
His earthly manifestation as Jesus began-with Mary's pregnancy
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:59 am

Davelaw wrote:
DeavonReye wrote:
Davelaw wrote:son of a god denoting kingship

not all the gods had children

but think Chinese=if you were a son of Heaven-you had a divine right to rule

I understand the "son of a god as the kingship", but can Jesus be a "son" if he always existed? That's what I was trying to figure out. It isn't as though Jesus was born of god and will inherit the kingdom when "god dies". So the "kingship of the son" seems like an oddity is this setup.

in Xian terms, the WORD-the LOGOS always existed
His earthly manifestation as Jesus began-with Mary's pregnancy

Deavon makes a good point, another reason why I think Jesus as King makes no sense. God won't die, so it makes sense that Jesus could be a prince but hardly a king. Being the eternal prince doesn't make any sense either.

I'm having difficulty seeing how your response relates to this point of Deavon's. What you said does answer Deavon's point about how Jesus could have always existed. But we know a son is the child of the parent and thus doesn't exist always. One of those incomprehensible mysteries, I presume. Could you explain, Dave?

That Jesus is believed to be the Messiah, one of whose characteristics was that he would come to defeat the Jews' enemies and rule as their secular king, does fit in a way. But Jesus didn't do either thing and stated that he did not come to govern the secular state.

For one thing, the Temple was still in place in Jesus's time, and the Messiah is to restore the Temple and bring all Jews back to Israel.

Additionally,

"The concept of Messiah is not part of biblical Judaism and developed as an informal folk tradition with many variants and different understandings. Messiah is the subject of numerous folk tales and Hassidic songs. One concept of the Messiah is given by Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), in his commentary on tractate Sanhedrin, of the Babylonian Talmud:

The Messianic age is when the Jews will regain their independence and all return to the land of Israel. The Messiah will be a very great king, he will achieve great fame, and his reputation among the gentile nations will be even greater than that of King Solomon. His great righteousness and the wonders that he will bring about will cause all peoples to make peace with him and all lands to serve him.... Nothing will change in the Messianic age, however, except that Jews will regain their independence...."

Source
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:54 am

as to the LOGOS being the son of God- I have a semi-heretical POV- God the Father is God outside of and independent of time, space and creation
God the Spirit is God working inside our created time in the spiritual realm
God the Son is God working inside our created jvtvime in the physical realm

as to the Messiah: modern Judaism no longer accepts the two Messiah concept-Christianity relies on it-Jesus fulfilling some of the prophecies the first time and the rest on His return
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:22 am

I just don't understand this concept. I understand the normal response that christianity gives, . . . but not the logical flow of it. I just don't see any reason to have an "analogy of a son" in whatever plan this god had in mind. I find it to be a bit paradoxical, in fact. I've often heard, when I was a christian, that "we are joint heirs with Jesus". I'm not sure where that specific doctrine came from, scripturally, . . . but as been pointed out, there is no logic in "heirship of an undying king". The "son", therefore, becomes needless and nonsensical, . . . . IMO. It is a concept that I embraced, while in christianity, never even considering what it actually meant because of my upbringing.

I'm not wanting to be offensive to anyone's religion, I just wonder about this.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Davelaw on Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:25 pm

that concept is based on the Roman concept of adult adoption to show how highly you favor a certain individual
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:37 pm

I'm not following. Can you ellaborate? I'm not sure what you mean by "a Roman concept".
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Sakhaiva on Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:39 pm

I'm sort of lost on what Dave is saying as well.

It's very difficult for people who do not live under 'kingships' to understand the idea of Christ as 'King of King & Lord of Lords'. We live in a society where we have lots of choices; we do not have to be 'lorded over'.

I think the nature of Christ as King must be understood first. Jesus as King knelt at the feet of his followers and washed those feet. He associated with the 'wrong' sorts of people. These are very non-Roman concepts.

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:48 pm

Davelaw wrote:
God the Spirit is God working inside our created time in the spiritual realm
God the Son is God working inside our created jvtvime in the physical realm

I have no idea what "working inside our created time" means. What would be an example that clearly is this?

as to the Messiah: modern Judaism no longer accepts the two Messiah concept-Christianity relies on it-Jesus fulfilling some of the prophecies the first time and the rest on His return

I've not heard that Judaism ever did accept the idea that you call "the double messiah." I'd be very interested in evidence supporting this point. Jesus doesn't fulfill any of the accepted Jewish characteristics of the Messiah. Christians regard Jesus as their Messiah as do Messianic Jews, the latter being decidedly Christians and not Jews at all despite their claims.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:56 pm

I'm still have to ask again what I did a few posts up:

"I've often heard, when I was a christian, that "we are joint heirs with Jesus". I'm not sure where that specific doctrine came from, scripturally, . . . but as been pointed out, there is no logic in "heirship of an undying king". The "son", therefore, becomes needless and nonsensical." What is the logic in "an heir to a never dying being"? Therefore, why have the concept of "a son"?

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:41 pm

Sakhaiva wrote:
I think the nature of Christ as King must be understood first. Jesus as King knelt at the feet of his followers and washed those feet. He associated with the 'wrong' sorts of people. These are very non-Roman concepts.


This is almost totally incomprehensible. What king washes the feet of his followers or associates with the wrong sort of people?

While I certainly agree that these would be most un-rulerlike behaviors from a Roman viewpoint, I can't begin to see what either has to do with the belief that Jesus is a king.

I'm completely baffled as to how washing feet and associating with undesirables illustrates anything about Jesus' kingship unless this is a reference to the belief that exalted as Jesus was by being the Son of God, he nevertheless humbled himself and did things which no earthly king would consider doing.

Yet again, it doesn't answer what Deavon is asking: How can the son of an undying king be said to be a king himself? What is the point of referring to Jesus as a prince even when it's unquestionable that he will never inherit the throne as do earthly princes upon the death of their kingly fathers?

Deavon is right; this is simply nonsensical.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:39 am

DotNotInOz wrote:
Davelaw wrote:
God the Spirit is God working inside our created time in the spiritual realm
God the Son is God working inside our created time in the physical realm

I have no idea what "working inside our created time" means. What would be an example that clearly is this?

Here, let the polytheist take a swing at it. Assuming that Gen 1, in which is a narrative of the creation of the cosmos by the Christian god, is taken as the beginning of "time", then this same "time" was created along with the cosmos. As such, the "God the father", existed outside that definition of time, hence Dave's turn of phrase, "created time". As such, the two subsequent aspects of the Christian god head, were also created during Gen 1. I would assume the necessity of the two other aspects would have something to do with a new need for a more involved "hand" in the newly created physical and spiritual realms? I could look at it as the God of the Deists creating the spiritual and physical realms, but because of its very nature, can not actually actively participate in the internal workings of either, and so needs some means of doing so, hence the other two forms. My only question then is how this could still be considered monotheistic, unless the later two were some sort of avatar, and why isn't this reflected in the OT?

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:22 am

Gorm_Sionnach wrote:I would assume the necessity of the two other aspects would have something to do with a new need for a more involved "hand" in the newly created physical and spiritual realms?

While we have presumable evidence in Christian scripture of God's being involved in human affairs in created time from putting Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden and then banishing them from it, giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, causing the great flood, etc., where's any evidence that God is still working in OUR created time today?

Guess I'm just dense, but I don't see anything that clearly can be called that. Sure, people whose family members or homes "miraculously" survive a hurricane or tornado say that God protected them. He sure didn't do much for all the others who died or whose homes were demolished, though.

I hope someone can point to a definite instance of God working within our own time akin to the examples I cited, because I can't think of any.

Consequently, I regard such accounts of the workings of God as entirely mythical.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:02 am

DotNotInOz wrote:
Gorm_Sionnach wrote:I would assume the necessity of the two other aspects would have something to do with a new need for a more involved "hand" in the newly created physical and spiritual realms?

While we have presumable evidence in Christian scripture of God's being involved in human affairs in created time from putting Adam and Eve into the Garden of Eden and then banishing them from it, giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, causing the great flood, etc., where's any evidence that God is still working in OUR created time today?

Guess I'm just dense, but I don't see anything that clearly can be called that. Sure, people whose family members or homes "miraculously" survive a hurricane or tornado say that God protected them. He sure didn't do much for all the others who died or whose homes were demolished, though.

I hope someone can point to a definite instance of God working within our own time akin to the examples I cited, because I can't think of any.

Consequently, I regard such accounts of the workings of God as entirely mythical.

Well, in this instance, I am speaking from an entirely mythical perspective, and not one I ascribe to, to boot. I'm just explaining my take on what I think Dave was talking about. I know many Christians who are fully convinced that their god is an active force in the world, and has a hand in literally everything. Generally they cite miracles as proof, and mystery (why X was saved, but not Y), as explanation. Though from a mythic perspective, those examples you cited, and others would be it.

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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DeavonReye on Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:19 am

The topic is more indepth than just the "how Jesus could be 'king' when the father never dies", . . . . but also the logic of "a son" when the person in question is stated to have had no beginning.

As for monotheism, there is evidence that the Hebrew people were polytheistic up unto around 600 bce. Kind of a side note, but biblical scholars have been working on this for some time now and have come to that conclusion. . . . and it may have actually sprung from an ancient Babylonian belief.
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Re: What does "son of God" really mean?

Post by DotNotInOz on Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:48 am

Gorm_Sionnach wrote:Generally they cite miracles as proof, and mystery (why X was saved, but not Y), as explanation. Though from a mythic perspective, those examples you cited, and others would be it.

Actually, I was being a bit facetious in referring to the fact that people who crawl out of the debris of their homes after a tornado or walk away from their car being crushed under a semi with only a few scratches thank God for protecting them.

I wouldn't call those God working within our time without all present having heard a disembodied voice identifying itself as emanating from God and specifying that these people specifically were spared by God's hand.

There are all sorts of biblical accounts of God speaking to people directly. Doesn't happen anymore.

I don't think it ever did, and that all those stories are just that, myths to arouse awe and wonder in the hearer or reader.
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