(This is Neil). I’ve been busy lately, so you’ll have to forgive the infrequency of my posts until the new year. But I did want to post something that I read on Newsweek‘s blog, On Faith. Several figures were asked if they believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, what that might mean, and, if not, who he really was. This short answer comes from the Yale theologian Miroslav Volf. At first, I worried that the brevity of his comment meant that it had to be insufficient, but, after a few rereadings, I have come to like his answer. What do you think?
Here is Volf:
The short answer to the first question is “Yes.” The long answer to all three questions would take a book or two, and very thick ones at that.
What do I mean by “son of God” when applied to Jesus Christ? Roughly what the great teachers of the church meant by this: Jesus Christ is not the product of God’s sexual relations; neither is he a member of a small family of non-physical gods. And he is not God’s son in the way in which every human being is God’s child.
As God’s son, Jesus Christ is unique. Was he a great moral teacher? Yes, but so were some others (e.g. Socrates). Was he a compelling embodiment of goodness? Yes, but so were some others (e.g. Francis of Assisi). Was he an extraordinary history-shaping figure? Yes, but so were some others (e.g. Gandhi).
What’s unique about Jesus Christ is this: He is the perfect self-revelation of God. Simply and audaciously put, the one who encounters Jesus has encountered God in God’s own very being. That’s what it means for us to say that Jesus Christ is the “son of God.”
Can I prove this astounding conviction about Jesus Christ? I cannot. Can one fit this conviction into a plausible account of reality as a whole? Yes, one can. Indeed, it is from the perspective of the conviction that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that everything else we know about the world can make excellent sense.