Appendix 11 - The Divinity of JESUS ​​CHRIST, Base of Our Elevation







(Pastor, 1869 - Continuation of Chapters 12 & 58)


(Apologetics is a field of theological study or

literary defense of a position consistently.)



Jesus - it was at the end of his ministry in Galilee - led his disciples one day in solitude, and there he asked them this question: "What say men that I am, I the son of man?" The disciples had just completed their first mission and journeyed through the countryside of Galilee. They had heard the various judgments of their master, and they gave him a faithful account. Some envisioned him as John the Baptist resurrected; others, such as one of the prophets, Jeremiah or Elijah; all as a simple man, but as an extraordinary person. After this, Jesus invited the Apostles to express their own feelings about himself; and Simon Peter formulated it in a word that remained as the confession of faith of the universal Church:

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".


This profession, Jesus welcomed it with joy and gave his assent: "You are very happy, Simon, son of Jonah; it is not the flesh that has revealed this to you; but it is my Father who is in heaven! 1 Matthew 16.13-16

Just as these varied judgments of the contemporaries of Jesus were superimposed on each other, and the last alone reached the full height of its object, so even today, if I may say so, the most the one person of Jesus, and this one alone can claim to be recognized as the true one, at least in the Church, of which we can prove that it is the exact expression of the consciousness that Jesus Christ had himself even of himself.

Strauss and all the group of thinkers who gravitate around him, see in Jesus only the greatest religious genius that has appeared in humanity, the purest and most exquisite product of this moral conscience of which we are all the depositories; which does not mean that he is the highest expression possible. From this point of view, the door is always open to new progress.

Jesus has been until now the most excellent of men, that is all that can be said; but he can come at every moment an even more excellent one. You know this point of view; we have heard him recently in the midst of us.

First-rate wise men who, at the beginning of their career, shared this view, were forced by an irresistible moral logic to abandon it and rise to a higher conception of the person of Jesus Christ. Deeply seized by the sight of this healthy moral life from one end to the other, which is in sharp contrast to the background of the corruption or the spiritual slump of all other humans, they said to themselves: There is a difference between this man and us not only in quantity and degree, but in quality. He is not only the best of men. It is the man, the absolutely good man, the man such as God alone could conceive, and that he himself can not want a better one. One could do no better than to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself; and this double love can no longer be perfectly realized than Jesus did it.

How can one explain such a being, appearing in the midst of an entire race eaten up by the rodent worm of sin? A particular law must have presided over his birth; for such an exceptional apparition must have an exceptional origin. That if it is so, this appearance was desired by God; this being was predestined for a great mission within humanity. He is the chosen one of God, chosen to perform the work of works in the midst of men. This is the conclusion to which serious consideration of the facts has led many scholars today, especially Mr. Keim, who expressed it in the following manner: "There was among us a real man, which the divine seed which is deposited in the midst of human nature, by a miracle of divine power, has blossomed perfectly. Man's innate communion with God has been consumed in him in a unique and eternally valid way. He is the ideal man, foreseen and loved by God from all eternity as the crown of creation; in the contemplation of which all the desires of love of the creator God are satisfied, because in the heart and in the eyes of this human person He sees Himself. " 2

This conception is sufficient, is it not, to embrace in Christ a Savior, and even to pay homage to Him as to a Lord. And, when I consider that it was obtained by the hard work of personal work; that to achieve this it was necessary to extricate itself from a thousand natural or scientific prejudices; that it has been conquered at the point of the sword against all the dogmas of unbelief and all the statutes of proud reason, my heart is moved in the face of the noble athlete who, sweat on the forehead, bring this profession of his faith; I can not refrain from shaking his hand effusively, and reminding myself of this word of our Master, "He who is not against me, is for me," to greet him like a brother. And yet, with this, have we understood, do we possess all the fullness of what is given to us in Jesus Christ? Have we measured height and depth, length and width? When you climb a mountain, you can stop at half-height, on one of the bleachers on the slope, and from there you can already admire an admirable painting. Does this mean that one can not climb higher? Take back your walk, brave friend of the beautiful! At the summit only your horizon will be free, and you will contemplate in all their majesty the works of your God. It is the same with the believer. On several occasions it is said of the disciples: "And they saw, and they believed." Each time the degree reached was changed for them into a point of support to rise to a new degree.

Remember the man born blind. He first recognized in Jesus a righteous man: "We know," he says, "that God does not listen to the wicked"; even a prophet: "What do you say of him, that he has opened your eyes? - He's a prophet". But from this conviction he is soon driven to a higher conviction:

"Do you believe in the Son of God? Jesus asks him.

- Who is he, that I may believe in him?

- You saw him, and he is the one who speaks to you.

- I believe, Lord.

And he bowed down before him." 3

When he whom we have recognized for a prophet, declares himself that he is more than a prophet, then we must advance or retreat, rise to the height of the new title which he attributes to himself, or descend and to withdraw from him the title of prophet, and even that of righteousness, which we had first conceded to him.

In the subject that will occupy us, everything depends on the testimony of Jesus on his person. And on this point arise four questions that we will study in this conference:


I. Is the testimony of Jesus on his person a valid testimony?

II. What is the true content of this testimony?

In other words: Did Jesus really affirm his divinity?

III. Assuming that he has done so, is this divine character that he attributes to himself compatible with his human nature, observed by the facts and attested also by himself?

IV. From the practical point of view: In wanting to find in Jesus a God, do not we lose a brother? And is not the best, here again, the enemy of good?


 2 Der geschichtliche Christus, p. 198. 3 John 9.38



  1. Is the testimony of Jesus on his person a valid testimony?


The testimony of a sinful man on his person can never be absolutely valid, for he can be falsified by two causes: the illusions of pride and the calculations of ambition.

But suppose a holy man, totally devoted to the glory of God and to the good of his neighbor. In this disposition of the soul, he is neither exposed to overselling himself in his own appreciation, nor to misleading others by exaggerating in their eyes his merits. Such was Jesus; his humility and his charity are for us the guarantee of the truth of his assertions on his person.

It is the feeling that he himself expresses in this word which is at once simple and profound: "He who seeks the glory of the one who sent him, is worthy of faith, and there is no such thing as injustice in him "; as well as in this other statement: "My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going." When one contemplates oneself in the full light of the communion of God and in the mirror of a perfectly pure consciousness, one is not likely to be dazzled by the false reflections of self-love; and when one speaks of oneself in the impetus of the most disinterested charity, lies are naturally excluded. Morally speaking, the validity of Jesus' testimony is therefore based on his profound humility, on the one hand, on his tender charity, on the other; to say everything about a word: about his holiness 5.


But God has marked with a second seal the testimony of Jesus, outer seal and more readable for many: his resurrection.

We believe we have historically demonstrated the reality of this fact; we have found that the testimony which the apostles gave back to it, and which formed the basis of their primitive preaching, can not be explained without the reality of the fact which is its object. If so, the resurrection is as certain as the very foundation of the Church through apostolic preaching.

But God certainly would not have raised up an imposter or a madman; and if the resurrection of Jesus is real, his testimony about himself can only be true.

We therefore conclude from these two facts to the validity of this testimony: the source is pure, it is the pure heart of Jesus; the seal is divine, it is the divine work of his resurrection.


4 John 7.78; 8.14 - 5 See the conference on The Perfect Holiness of Jesus Christ.  Chapter 58



II. What is the true content of this testimony?


What is the content of Jesus' testimony on his person? It is summed up in these two titles that Jesus has frequently attributed to himself: the Son of Man and the Son of God.

The first is a testimony to her humanity, not only in what she has in common with ours, but also in what she has had as exceptional. If Jesus had only designated himself as the son of man, as God so often calls the prophet Ezekiel, he would declare himself a member of the human race, a true man, and nothing more. But he has called himself the Son of man, and by this he stands as the normal representative of all this human race to which he has devoted himself, the true man.

If the title of Son of Man indicates the participation of Jesus in humanity, it is natural to think that, by virtue of the contrast, the one of Son of God designates his participation in divinity.

It is denied, however; it is recalled that this name, in the Old Testament, is sometimes applied to angels; that in the New, it is attributed to all the faithful; and it is thought that when applied to Jesus, it is, as it is claimed, already in the Psalms and the prophets, synonymous with that of Messiah, that is, King of Israel.

Let us first examine the precise meaning of the name «  Son of God » in our first three Gospels.

It may happen that this title refers only to a mysterious personal relationship between the invisible God and the visible being who bears it. It is in this sense more or less clearly determined that it is applied to angels and the faithful. But notice that as Jesus is not called only son of man in general, but the Son of man, so he is not called the son of God, like so many others, but the Son of God, and even, in short, the Son. From this it follows already that he knows himself to be a son of God in an exceptional sense and superior to that in which any other personage can bear this title.

This is what emerges more expressly from the following statements: "As for that day (that of his final coming), no one knows him, neither the angels of God, nor even the Son, but the Father alone." Is it not manifest that in this passage, by this name the Son, placed as he is, Jesus attributes himself a position superior to that of the angels, and that consequently this term is taken in a different sense than when applied to these heavenly creatures? So again, from the institution of baptism, "Go, baptize all nations in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," does it not clearly transpire that by this name the Son, thus interposed between the two terms, the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus places himself at an immeasurable height above all the beings who are to be baptized in his Son's name as well as in that of the Father, and that he takes position within the Divinity?

Jesus attributes to himself the name of Son in a special, unique sense. What is this sense? Would this title designate, as we are told, his office as Messiah? Would it be synonymous with that of King of Israel?

Try, in the two passages that we have just quoted, to substitute the title of King of Israel for that of Son: « As for that day, no one knows him, neither the angels, nor even the King of Israel, but the Father alone »« Go; baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the King of Israel, and the Holy Spirit! » What do you think of this substitution? Add this third word of Jesus modified in the same way: « No one knows the King of Israel except the Father, and the Father, than the King of Israel, and he to whom the King of Israel will make known. ! » This shocks common sense, certainly. Why ? Because we instinctively understand that there is a close correlation between these two terms taken absolutely one and the other: the Father, the Son. This comparison proves to us that the second can not designate here an office, a service of any kind, that it can relate only to a personal relation, to a communion of life and essence like that which unites a father and a son. If, as Jesus asserts, the depth and intimacy of this relationship are unfathomable to anyone other than these two beings so closely united, who share in it, it is quite certain that the dignity of King Messiah is totally alien in the meaning of the word Son, in this passage.

But there are some passages where the name of son is joined to that of Christ, so that it seems to be its equivalent. Thus in the confession of St. Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God"; or in the question of the high priest: "Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 6 When one name is added to another, it can only be for the purpose of explaining the first, which is obscure, by the second, more known and clearer, or to add, by means of the second, a new idea to that expressed by the first. The first of these two alternatives is not applicable here; for the title of Son of God, which is placed second, is much more mysterious and obscure than that of Christ who precedes it, and which was very used among the Jews and perfectly clear to each. The name of the Son of God has thus been added to that of Christ in these passages, not to explain the latter, but to complete it by adding to the notion that it contains a new idea. And the gradation between one and the other is easy to understand.

 6 Matthew 16:16; 26.63

The name of Christ is a name of office; it refers to the office of Jesus, that of Messiah. The title of Son relates to his person; he designates his special, personal relationship with God, which is the foundation on which his Messiah's quality rests. Peter, saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," therefore affirms, not one thing, but two:

the one that Jesus is that King-Messiah that Israel is waiting for; the other that there exists between his person and God a living and mysterious bond which he does not seek to define.

And likewise, the high priest, in bidding Jesus before the Sanhedrin to say whether he is the Christ, the Son of God, asks him not about one point, but about two: "As for your office, are you the Messiah ? and as for your person, do you pretend to be something more than a mere man, as many of your words seem to make him understand? "

What proves that this is the meaning of his question is the story of Luke, where the two questions, united in one by Matthew, are completely separate, even separated: « Are you the Christ? » Asks Caiaphas first. Jesus answers and ends his answer with this statement: "The Son of man will now be seated at the right hand of the power of God" And as this word implies participation in divinity, the high priest then adds this second question: « Are you the Son of God? » This word therefore clearly proves that this new question is provoked by the last words of Jesus in the preceding answer, and thus demonstrates the difference of meaning of the two terms of Christ and of the Sons of God. What completes proving the true meaning of the title of Son of God in this passage is the explosion of indignation provoked by Jesus' response:

"I am" and the sentence of death which, after this word, is immediately pronounced against him, as a blasphemer. There was no blasphemy on the part of a man to call himself the Messiah; for this charge was divinely instituted, and the man who was to fulfill it was expected in Israel. To attribute it falsely was an imposture, not a blasphemy.

The accusation of blasphemy could only relate to the title of Son of God and the divine dignity that Jesus attributed to himself by that. This alone may have appeared to the Jews as an affront to divine majesty. If, for his part, Jesus had not himself attached this importance to the title which he gave himself, it would have been for him a sacred duty to dispel, by a prompt and categorical explanation, such a grave misunderstanding between him and the representatives of his people. Was it not because of this misunderstood title of Son of God that they were going to condemn him to death, and to pronounce their own sentence of death? Jesus had to hasten, if not for himself, at least for his judges, to prevent the consequences of the false interpretation of the title he attributed to himself. He did not do anything like it; he has certainly taken this title himself in the sense that his judges have taken it, in the one where we take it ourselves. There is another word of Jesus, reported uniformly by our first three evangelists, and whose full significance we must weigh. It was pronounced a few days before his Passion, and probably it was, in the thought of Jesus, in connection with the accusation of which he knew he was threatened.

This is the question he addresses to the Scribes:

"What does it seem to you from Christ? Whose son is he? And they said to him, From David; And he said to them, How then is David calling him by the Spirit his Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, until I have made your enemies your footstool. If David calls him his Lord, how is he his son? 7 The Scribes, with all their sagacity, did not know how to answer this question. Of course, Jesus wanted them to understand that although he descended from David according to the flesh and by virtue of the bond which bound him to human nature, his existence had at the same time a higher origin, by virtue of which he was the Lord from that David from which he descended. This is what the Apocalypse expresses, in its symbolic language, by calling Jesus both the root and the offspring of David 8 Jesus thus wanted to plead scripturally beforehand the cause of his divinity.

7 Matthew 22.41 - 8 Revelation 22.16; compare Micah 5.2.


For he knew very well that this would be the pretext for his condemnation; and he took advantage of the time when he could still demonstrate, discuss, with a view to the one where he could only assert himself, then shut up. 9

Besides these statements, of which we quote only the most striking, we must place, as proof of the meaning which he himself attached to his title of Son of God, the position he attributes to himself in our first three gospels compared to other men. Not only, as we have seen, he declares that only he can reveal the Father to them; they must be cleansed by baptism in his name; he calls God his Father in a sense in which he does not allow any other man to do so in common with him. But, above all, he never ceases to claim for himself feelings which, according to all Scripture, are not to be understood, to address only to God. This is how he claims for him a love superior to that which exists between beings united by the closest bonds. "If anyone loves his father or his mother, his child, his wife, himself more than me, he is not worthy of me." A simple man to intervene between a mother and her child, between ourselves and ourselves! Then, with supreme love, he asks or authorizes absolute trust. He says, "Believe in God and believe in me too." He says, "Come to me, you who are worked and loaded, and I will give you the rest of your souls." 11 Have the greatest prophets ever said anything like it? They sent men to God; they would all have considered it a blasphemy to call them to themselves. The functions finally attributed to Jesus are no less remarkable than the sentiments he claims. He is so much the incarnate truth that being persecuted for him is being for the truth itself: "You will be very happy when men reject you and insult you because of me, the Son of Man. . Rejoice and thrill with joy, for your reward will be great in heaven. » 12 He is even more than the truth, he is the good, the moral good incarnated and personified, so much so that every good action on earth is addressed to him personally. He is the real object of good; he is the debtor in eternity. Jehovah's commitment in the old covenant: "He who gives to the poor, lend to the Lord, who will give him his favor," he takes it on him without hesitation: "What you did to one of these youngest of my brothers, you did it to me. "


9 Reville (History of the Dogma of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, p. 14) claims, following the example of some other rationalist writers, that what Jesus wants to prove by arguing thus, is not that he is the Son of God, but that, like Messiah, "he is not necessarily the son of David". There are things to which we would do too much honor by refuting them. We refer to all the passages of the New Testament (Matthew, Paul, Apocalypse), to genealogies in particular, where Jesus is posited expressly as the son of David. And Jesus would like to prove in this passage that he is not!

10 Matthew 7:12, etc .; John 20:17   11 John 14: 1; Matthew 11.28


And when he formulates the sentence that will forever remove the wicked from the sphere of light and goodness, what does he say: "Depart from ME, you who work iniquity! 14 » Would God speak differently?

A man, to be the intermediary between God and the human soul; a man, to pose himself as the truth and the good incarnated in the heart of humanity; a man, to pronounce this sentence: « Depart from ME, workers of iniquity! » In truth, I do not understand how the freethinkers could stay long vis-à-vis Jesus in the attitude they try to take, that of a respectful admiration. Or he is only a man, and by the position he has taken he has carried humanity into gross idolatry, and has only substituted a new form of paganism to the old. He, the most humble of all men in appearance, he was in fact the most proud. Far from deserving our admiration, it must become the object of our indignation, of our execration, as it has attracted that of the Jews who have justly condemned it. And all that remains for us is to take a stand for them against him, and not for himself against them; it is the new anti-evangelical alliance that is being prepared before our eyes. - Or the position he has taken belongs to him indeed. He is really what he claimed to be; and then, you understand it: admiration is no longer enough. We must pass to faith, in the religious sense of the word, to faith which is due only to God; it is necessary to give oneself to love in the supreme sense of the word, to love which is due only to God. We must go to adoration. From the Thomas who denies, from the doubting Thomas, one must become the Thomas who leaps to the summit and has the courage to call Jesus his Lord and God.

12 Matthew 5.11 and parallels. 13 Matthew 25.40, 45  14 Matthew 7.23; 25.41


We have been led to this result only by the study of our first three Gospels. It is fully confirmed and corroborated by the Gospel of St. John. It is there that we find in the testimony of Jesus highlighted the great thought which forms the background of all the words previously quoted from the first three Gospels; we mean the idea of ​​the eternal preexistence of Jesus Christ as the absolute object of the Father's love. « Father, give me the glory I had with you before the world was made. You loved me before the foundation of the world. » "What will it be when you see the son of man go back to where he was before? » "Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus speaks here as one who says in the Old Testament: "I am he who is." We are defying today, I know, from these words; it is claimed that the author of the fourth Gospel made Jesus speak as he pleased. Make the one who is the object of his faith speak as he pleases! What a moral contradiction!

But when we no longer have any of the words of Jesus in which the consciousness he had of his divinity was expressed, we could nevertheless draw certain conclusions on this point, starting from the idea that his apostles have made about him.

There is in all Israelite hearts an innate horror for all that tends to identify the Creator and the creature. And so that the apostles could manage to grant to their master the titles and the divine attributes, they had to have unequivocal reasons, between which the only decisive one could only be the way in which they had heard about him. Nothing outside this testimony could have led them to cross the line separating the docility and admiration of adoration. Besides, had not they lived familiarly with him for three years, eaten at the same table, walked beside him like his traveling companions? Had they not looked at him exhausted, suffering from thirst and hunger, questioning, praying, crying, moaning, exhaling. . . ? What demonstration did it take to bring these Jews, brought up in the purest monotheistic orthodoxy, to see Jehovah himself in such a being, to invoke him and preach him as such! This conviction, however, can be seen in those of the apostles whose writings have been preserved.

The Apocalypse is today in favor of rationalist writers. They recognize it almost all as the work of the Apostle John, written in the year 68. 15. What do we find in this writing? Jesus is called first and last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is designated as "He who searches hearts and loins"; as "the Lamb who has the seven eyes and the seven horns (the fullness of all-science and omnipotence)". It is called "the beginning (or the principle) of the creation of God". The Lamb sitting on the throne shares with God Himself the worship of heavenly intelligences and glorified saints; and this in the same book in which an angel says to John, who prostrates himself before him: "Adore GOD!" Jesus finally bears in the Apocalypse the same distinctive title as in the Gospel, that of the Word of God, which implies, in both writings, his divinity. 16 M. Réville replies that this is only an acquired divinity. As if Jesus was not called first as well as last, the beginning as well as the end! As if these epithets were not those by which Isaiah describes the glory of Jehovah! Besides, the idea of ​​a become God is incompatible with the monotheistic intuition of the Scriptures. "A God made man," said Mr. Gess, "it is a miracle; but a man makes God, it is an adventure (Abendteuer, magical accident).


15 The rationalist critique is not comfortable with this writing. On the one hand, it is necessary for him to notice the alleged antagonism between the Twelve and Saint Paul (although this writing does not confirm it at all). And on the other, he embarrasses him; for, as we will see, it already contains all the Christology of Paul and John himself! So we will soon see him rejected as well as the 4th Gospel.

16 Revelation 1.11; 2.23; 3.14; 5.6, 11-13; 19.13; 22.3, 9, 13 (I come),

compared with 1.8 (The Lord who is, who was, and who is coming).


St. Peter, in the first verses of his 1st Epistle, unites Jesus to the Father and the Holy Spirit in a manner that expressly recalls the institution of baptism, and which can rest only on the same conviction of his divinity on which rests this institution itself.

Saint Paul expresses himself exactly like Saint John in the Apocalypse. According to him, Jesus "is before all things; he is the firstborn of all creation or before all creation; he is the one by whom and for whom are all things. " He is that "Rock of Israel" that led his people into the desert. Before appearing here below, he existed in the form of God, that is, in a divine state; he voluntarily became a man after having annihilated himself to take the form of a servant. It is in him that all things, the visible and the invisible, subsist 17.


The epistle to the Hebrews, which dates from before the ruin of Jerusalem, since it supposes the temple still standing, and which it announces as coming the ruin of the theocratic order of things, consecrates an entire chapter, the first to establish the full and entire divinity of Jesus Christ. And it's not that she denies her humanity. No book of the New Testament affirms it, on the contrary, with more energy, and applies it with a seemingly more heterodox consequence. These are clear testimonies of the conviction which reigned in the apostolic circle whence these writings are emanated.

But it is objected that he is often spoken, either in the Gospels or in Acts, of Jesus as of a simple man; so when St. Peter, in his denial, says of him: "I do not know that man" or when, in one of his first speeches in Acts, Jesus is called "A man approved of God by miracles and prodigies that God has made through him ". But St. Peter, speaking to the servants of the high priest, should he have told them perhaps, even at the very moment when he denied Jesus:" I do not know that God! And later, when the apostles made their first sermons before the Jewish people, were they to begin by proclaiming his divinity? No, because this truth is the one that has always violently struck the Jewish ears. Moreover, it is a truth that can only be admitted by one who has already received Christ as the Messiah or the Savior. For one believes in his divinity only on faith in his testimony; and to admit his testimony on a fact so difficult to believe, one must have recognized in him the envoy of God.

17 Colossians 1.15-17; 1 Corinthians 8.6; 10.4; Philippians 2.5-7.



This is why the apostles had to begin by proclaiming the historical facts of his death and resurrection, which everyone could see, and which were sufficient to prove his dignity as Messiah. Thus faith in Israel was to be founded; the rest was to be reserved for further development.

Besides, the apostles themselves, although aware of the fact, did not yet have the precise formula. The feeling of the divinity of him who was the object of their faith penetrated their hearts; otherwise, how should Stephen claim forgiveness from his enemies? How, with the last breath, would he send him the same prayer that Jesus expired to his Father? But the memory of the earthly life of Jesus, of his career as simple servant of the Lord, was still at home so present and so alive that the thought of his divinity was not yet distinctly distinct from that of his appearance earthly, and presented itself rather to their spirit in the form of the divine glorification granted to his human person. Nothing, therefore, more in accordance with historical truth than the manner in which Jesus is presented in the first speeches of Acts.

If they had been composed later, we would see something else! It is interesting to compare, as a test against the thought of the apostles, the conviction of the churches founded by them, as it is expressed in the oldest Christian writings, the works of the time immediately following the apostolic period. We have only a very small number left; but they are sufficient to attest to the faith of the Churches on this capital point.


In the Epistle of Roman Clement, probably written towards the end of the first century, according to some earlier, according to others a little later, Jesus is called the scepter of the majesty of God end Chapter 16 .. In one of Ignatius' letters, which are most probably authentic, and date back to 115, we find expressions such as these: "The love of Jesus Christ our God"; "The blood of God."

In an Epistle probably attributed by mistake to Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul, but which must have been composed by a Christian of Alexandria, towards the end of the first century or the beginning of the second, Jesus is represented as the being with which the Father conversed when, at the moment of creating man, he said: "Let us make man in our image." In the Pastor of Hermas, written a little later, around 140-150, it is said that the Son of God is anterior to all creatures, so much so that he assisted the Father in the creation of the world 20. Finally in Epistle to Diognetus, the masterpiece of ancient Christian literature, we find these words: "As a king sends his son king, so God sent him to us as God." Do you perhaps ask if all these writings do not proceed from the same country, and do not express the conviction of a single Church? In no way: Ignatius represents Asia Minor; the unknown author of the letter of Barnabas, Alexandria and the Egyptian church; Clement and Hermas, Rome; the Epistle to Diognetus, probably Greece.

So, the same thought about Christ in all the countries of the Church.

18 Ephesians 1; Romans 1. - 19 Chapter 5 - 20 Book III, similarity 9, ch.12


How to explain this conviction, if it was not based on apostolic preaching? And this apostolic preaching, how to explain it, if it is not based on the teaching of Jesus himself? A pagan himself, a man eminent in science and literature, Pliny the Younger, born in the year 62, bears witness to the Christian faith on this capital point. He had been appointed by the Emperor Trajan governor of one of the main provinces of Asia Minor. There he faces a large Christian population; he hesitates about how to apply the persecutory law that condemns them. He asks, in a letter which has been preserved to us, directions to his sovereign and friend, Trajan; and on this occasion, he speaks of the life of the Christians whom he has before his eyes.

In this description is this remarkable word: "They sing hymns to Jesus as to a God. 21" The facts, therefore, refute this assertion, that the conviction of the divinity of the Savior was formed in the Church only in the course of the second century, by the spontaneous exaltation of Christian ideas.

The Christian sentiment on this point has been invariably fixed from the first day. But it has been variously formulated by those who have been its organs. Peter's formula is not Paul's; that of Paul is not that of John, nor this one, that of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This diversity of expression shows that there is no copy here, and that one and the same consciousness of truth is emerging in all these forms in a free and independent manner. It was the same later in the Church as to the dogmatic formula which she so laboriously sought. No matter how much arguing at Nicaea, everyone in this council admitted the divinity of the Savior. The differences concerned only how to account for them.


21 It should be noted that this expression is part of the confessions that Pliny had wrested from Christians facing the ordeal; it is therefore the faith of the Church itself that expresses itself in these words: Carmen Christo, quasi Deo, dicere secum invicem (pronounce alternately a hymn to Christ as God).


M. Reville further asserts that the general law of the development of this dogma is this: "Of two parties in struggle, the one who triumphs is regularly the one who most glorifies the person of Jesus." This law is drawn from imagination, not from history. The most exalted idea of ​​the Savior's person is that of those doctors called Docetes, who, from the last days of the first century, taught that the body of Jesus had been but one simple appearance and thus refused any reality to his human existence. Far from prevailing, this excessive opinion has been vigorously rejected by the Church. She is already condemned in the 1st Epistle of John: "He who denies Christ come in the flesh, is an antichrist". This sentence is reproduced by Polycarp, the disciple of John, in his Epistle to the Philippians. The Church has thrown out of its bosom, in the course of the second century, the Basilide, Valentine, Marcion and all the other partisans of this doctrine which violated the true humanity of Jesus. A little later, the Church has not less vigorously rejected the Apollinaire doctrine, which attributed to Jesus a real body, but which denied him a human soul; then that which would recognize in him only one nature, the divine nature (the monophysite doctrine); finally, that which attributed to him only one will, the divine will (the doctrine of the Monotheletes).

All these facts show how little the Church was willing to engage in speculative training with regard to the person of Christ, how, on the contrary, she remained firmly seated on the unshakable rock of historical testimony, as well as humanity only as to the divinity of its leader. Emanated from the consciousness of Jesus, the affirmation of his divinity was repeated by the apostles, reproduced by the teachers of the Church, sung by the whole Church, in the middle of the sea of fire of persecution and martyrdom ; and this testimony of Jesus returns to us at this hour, echoed by all these voices of Christian antiquity, to strengthen our faith, and make us victorious in the great crisis we are entering. "Who is the one who wins the world over," says St. John, "but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? "

22 History of the Dogma of the Divinity of Jesus, p.94.




III. Assuming that he has done so, is this divine character that he attributes to himself compatible

            with his human nature, certifyed by the facts and attested also by himself?


But a prodigy such as that of the union of the divine nature and the human nature in one person, is it possible? Can divine perfections coexist in the same life with human imperfection? The all-science of the infinite mind with the ignorance attached to the finite being; omnipotence with weakness; the all-presence with this location under which all that is bodily can occupy only one place at a time?

The divine state, I think I must admit, is not compatible with our present mode of human existence. But that is precisely why Scripture teaches two things:

1. That Jesus had to lay down the divine state, his form of God, in order to become man;

2. That, in order to recover his divine state, a glorious transformation of the Ascension took place in his humanity.

I say: a stripping. St. Paul describes this supreme fact in these words: "He who was in the form of God, he annihilated himself, having taken the form of a servant."

Nowhere is it said that during his earthly existence Jesus possessed all-knowledge. Evangelical history attributes to him a supernatural knowledge, equal, superior even, no doubt, to that of the prophets. There is evidence of this in his conversations with Nathanael and the Samaritan woman, as well as in many other features of her life. But all science, according to the sacred narrative, does not appear to have possessed it. Did he not question, sincerely, saying, « Where did you put him? » «Who touched me? » Finally, does he not declare that he himself does not know the day of his coming? But all-science does not share. Or we have it, and in this case we have it all; or we do not have it. The supernatural knowledge that Jesus possessed was therefore distinctly different from all-science. It could be divine knowledge, in the sense that it was constantly and freely drawn from God; but it was not the divine attribute of omniscience.

The sacred narrative still recognizes Jesus, during his stay here below, a miraculous power. But was this power the omnipotence? In that case, would Jesus have had to obtain everything by prayer? Would he say: « Father, I give you thanks, for I know that you always answer me? » Would he say, "The works that my Father gave me the power to do? " No ; his supernatural power, though superior to that of the prophets, does not appear to have been omnipotence.

Jesus, during his earthly life, could act at a distance; but he did not possess the all-presence for that. He was really moving from one place to another; he was on his way to being exhausted with fatigue, and his friends were in the position of saying to him: "If you had been here. . . "

One can even extend what we say here to his moral qualities, his wisdom, his holiness, his love. Divine perfections do not grow or diminish. But Jesus grew in wisdom, as well as in stature. "Though Son, he learned obedience by the things he suffered."

He himself does not fear to express himself thus: "I sanctify myself". Which means without a doubt: I gradually print to all that constitutes my human existence the seal of perfect consecration. - His love, finally, did not grow since childhood, where Jesus embraced in his affection only his relatives, through adolescence, where all his people became the object of his ardent love, until the mature age, when his heart opened to the misery of the whole world, and where he willingly offered himself to bear the sin of all that is called man? This is not the wisdom, the holiness, the immutable love of God; it is the growing wisdom, holiness, and charity of a pure man, who grows up in struggle and walks to perfection.

While maintaining the identity of his personality, Jesus was so stripped of his divine state, that he even had to give way to a real human life, to lose, during the first portion of his earthly existence, the consciousness of his divine existence and, if I dare say so, of his glorious past. Otherwise, how could it really have been, as the Scripture affirms, child, young man, like all others, differing from them only in the absence of sin? Doubtless, he will soon recognize, by this very difference, that he was in a very special relationship with God; and it is in this sense that at the age of twelve he was able to call him his Father. But if we carefully weigh the expressions of Scripture, we are led to think that it is only at the time of his baptism that, by a divine communication, the consciousness of his eternal origin and of his personal relationship with God has been restored to him. The divine declaration: "You are my Son" was not an unnecessary demonstration. She revealed Jesus to Jesus himself, and was the foundation of the revelation he gave of himself to the world. He returned from that moment on to his personal conscience in the bosom of his Father. He has not yet recovered the divine state, no doubt. But he distinctly understood what he was for God, as the eternal object of his love, and how God was for him the Father, in a unique sense. And while remaining humbly in the human state, which he had freely accepted, he has now been able to utter words such as this: "No one knows the Son except the Father, nor the Father but the Son." "Before Abraham was, I am 23"


23 Permit me here to reproduce the admirable words of Pastor Verny, recently quoted by M. de Pressensé in the very interesting pages he has devoted to it (Verny and Robertson, 16):

"If every human generation, conceived and born in sin, begets, gives birth, and in turn forms a new sinful generation, and if the Savior came to break this chain, he must not have been himself a simple ring. To seize it with a powerful hand, to break it in the middle, it had to be placed, to have its fulcrum and force outside and above it. To heal the sick tree of humanity, he must not have been one of the branches, one of the fruits of this tree, I say the most noble and sweetest fruit, because the noblest and the sweeter still carries a worm that eats it. It must not have been unwittingly brought on the waves of time, on those waves that carry human generations; he must not have been subjected to the condition imposed upon us to be born in such and such a century and to be willy-nilly children of our century.

No, it must have been a beginning again, the leader and father of one humanity, one new story, another Adam, as St. Paul calls it; he had to come freely, because he wanted it, and only because he wanted it. "


This testimony, he realized, not for the vain pleasure of boasting himself - he knew on the contrary that this would cost him his life - but to accomplish his mission, which was to glorify God on the earth. To make the world understand how good God is, he had to reveal him as Father; and to reveal God fully as Father, he had to reveal himself as Son. To make men feel how much God loves them, he had to make them appreciate the greatness of the gift that God gave them; and for that, it was necessary to tell them who he was, and what he was for his Father: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son". To make us finally appreciate what we are for God, and how precious we are to him, it was necessary to raise the veil which covered his own greatness, and to tell us that in his person humanity became the family of the eternal Son, the home of the deity herself. The revelation of himself was the only way to fully operate that of God. But this stripping of his divine state was not to last forever. Destined to give way to a real human existence, it was to cease as soon as it had reached its perfection. For this humanity, fulfilled in the person of Jesus, became fit to be elevated in him to the possession of the glory which he had enjoyed before becoming man.

This return, we contemplate it in Ascension. Already at the moment of the Transfiguration, the elevation of Jesus to glory was near to consummation. He did not consent. There was still a task for him to fulfill, the one he was talking to Moses and Elijah on the mountain. He wanted to go back up, but not to leave humanity behind him, as would have happened if he had entered Heaven at that time.

This is why he refused to return with Moses and Elijah to the Father, who seemed to call him from the bosom of the cloud. He went down again to die in Jerusalem, as he said to the two heavenly messengers. This painful necessity has momentarily interrupted the course of its begun glorification; but once this condition of our salvation is fulfilled, the ascending course has resumed its course. The Resurrection and the Ascension were the two decisive moments. Jesus was reintegrated into the divine state he had left. This is what he asked in these words: "Father, give me the glory I had with you before the world was done."

But do not think that, in order to recover the divine state, he must have deposed his human nature. Rather than parting from her, he exalted her and made her able to be raised in her own person on the throne. Is it not like the Son of the glorified man whom Stephen greets him on the threshold of the kingdom of glory? Is it not like the immolated Lamb that Saint John looks upon it on the throne of divine majesty, in the apocalyptic vision? Did Paul not know, by his own experience, and for having contemplated the Lord himself on the road to Damascus, that it is bodily that the fullness of the divinity dwells in him? 24

Does not Jesus himself say that he is the son of man whom he will return to judge the living and the dead? 25

How can our human existence be so elevated in Christ to the dignity of organ of divine perfection? Behind the veil of this cloud of which God has enveloped Jesus at the moment of his elevation, has been accomplished in him a transformation by virtue of which his humanity has been associated with divine glory. At this hour only the creation of humanity has been completed, and the plan of God towards man realized.

He had created it without doubt in his image; but this first man was only a sketch. The true man, the one he definitely wanted, was born in Bethlehem, grew up to perfect moral stature up to the cross, and was consummated by the Ascension. "You will be like gods," said the tempter. It was the goal; but he only showed it to deflect the man from the path. Jesus has found the true path, obedience, and following it faithfully, has realized for us the goal. Holiness was the condition of glory.

24 Colossians 2.9 - 25 Compare Matthew 26.64; Luke 21.36; John 5.27.


God's plan once realized in one, what remains now, except that what has been done in One is accomplished in all? But this is precisely the work that begins immediately following the elevation of Jesus. It opens on the day of Pentecost and lasts throughout the economy in which we live, which is, in the intention of God, only a permanent Pentecost. The Spirit of Jesus associates us with his holiness, and thereby prepares us for the possession of his glory. He communicates to every believer this sanctified and glorified humanity, realized in the person of Jesus, and substitutes it for our crippled and soiled. The Spirit thus creates for Jesus, on earth, a spiritual body, a set of living organs, the Church. And when this body has attained the degree of spiritual growth commensurate with the celestial height of its Head, that he will have come, as St. Paul says, to the full stature of Christ, then that Head will raise it up to him, and he will associate this body with his divine state. That's why Christ has to come back. His advent will be for the Church what Ascension has been for his person.

Let us see the contradictions contained in such a plan! Let us be told what internal incompatibilities between the elements it combines, make it inconceivable! Once you have believed that God is love, that a divine love can only be admirable in counsel and magnificent in means, that the essence of love is to give oneself as far as possible, and that As far as possible, for God, it is the infinite, what is there still to object? Humanity has only to humble itself and give thanks. What torrents of light does this view not shed on earthly life! May she become holy, great, in the clarity of the term assigned to her: God, all in all, as formerly all in Christ! God makes man into a man, that by faith in this One all may be brought up to the closest and most immediate union with God Himself!




IV. From the practical point of view: In wanting to find in Jesus a God, do not we lose a brother? And is not the best, here again, the enemy of good?


NO, this is our Elevation (added by D.C.)


The purpose of God, in the incarnation of his Son, is no longer a mystery to us; and we can now grasp the practical side of this great event, the momentous event in the history of the world. In ruling the divinity of Jesus Christ, we are said to lose a brother. The truth is rather than, in ascertaining this fact of the divinity of our Savior, we obtain God Himself for our brother, and that by union with this brother we become apt to share the divine state.

One more man, like all others on this earth, would this be such a great gain for humanity? Does one more branch on a bushy tree change the nature of this tree? But a graft that you insert there, that's what can transform it and the sap and the fruits. If Jesus is only one more man to add to all who are born of woman, and whose body has been renewing the mass of the earth's slime, I do not see clearly what this existence contains of decisive for the destiny of humanity and for my own. But if, in him, a being of a higher order, even divine, assimilated our nature, then the great thought of God towards humanity and towards me is discovered to my eyes.

Why did God want nature? To reach the free being, the man.

Why did he want the man? Because he wanted to lead to the holy being, able to support a moral relationship with him, to become his organ, his visible representative, his free and glorious agent. And that goal, in favor of who He conceived it? In favor of one? No, of all. There was a God-man, so that in him all of us, becoming his brothers by his incarnation, could be transformed into a family of creatures in which the paternal love of God breaks out - in a sense, in a family of Gods-men. I would not dare to express myself in this way, if Saint Paul himself said of the Son: "That he may be like a firstborn among many brethren."

Ah! No more than liberal Christianity do we claim to haggle with men the title of son of God. Only this title seems to us too holy for us to consent to lavish it, throwing it to the face of the first comer. We can not shout indiscriminately to every man we meet, so as to exalt his pride: You are sons of God! But with humble and profound gratitude, in the name of the Word made flesh, we can tell you all: God calls you to become his children, his sons and his daughters. What you are all by destination, you can all become in reality. Only, that your sin may not hinder it, and your glorious destiny be fulfilled, you must allow the Son of God to come to life in you; it suffices to grasp, as believers, the one by whom you have been seized, as men.

Fathers, you know the art of raising your child to the height of your moral life: it is to go down to his level, and to lower yourself to share his concerns, his interests, his pleasures. This is how you gradually elevate him to moral communion with you. Love has taught you this secret. It is God's to you. He has come down to you, to lift you up to Him. So do not be a son of God, but become one. Please become him, not as Christ, as if you could climb the steps of the throne beside him and on your feet! Become him in him, who is the way, the truth and the life; in him, who wants to realize in you the union of divinity and humanity as he realized in himself. Jesus summed up everything in this saying: "You in me, Father, and I in them".

This is the Christianity of Jesus Christ. Christ is the living ladder that carries us unto the throne. In his incarnation, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, is offered to each one of us the possibility of reaching "where he is". Go, and may the task of your life would be to change this glorious possibility into sublime, eternal reality! Accept Pentecost, and you will have Ascension.


End of the Conference written by FRÉDÉRIC GODET in 1869