In the current threat I am building up to the question of where the Trinity came from. It was not the original Christian teaching. How then did it emerge as the “orthodox” view?
I have started with the key issue, which is complicated enough on its own terms. How, why, and when did the followers begin to call Jesus God? That has been the posts up till now. The reason it matters for the thread is that calling Jesus God made Christians try to figure out how he could be God and God could be God yet there be only one God. The Spirit later got thrown into the mix as well, as we will see.
But first I want to continue talking about the development of the view of Christ as God — a very important development (THE most important development, one could argue) in early “Christology” (= the understanding of Christ). That is the entire topic of my fuller treatment in my book How Jesus Became God (on which also I made a Great Courses 24-lecture course, by the same title). While I was writing the book, I completely changed my mind about something significant: whether the earliest Gospel writers, Mark, Matthew, and Luke thought of Jesus as God. I will devote two posts to that issue now.
So far I have argued that there were two separate streams of early Christology (this too has been a major shift in my thinking, and is closely related to the one I will be discussing momentarily). The first Christologies were almost certainly based on the idea of “exaltation.” Christ, as a human being, came to be exalted to the right hand of God, where he was made to share in God’s status as a reward for his faithfulness. The earliest Christians – the earthly disciples themselves (or at least some of them: we have no way of knowing if they all “converted” to believe this about Jesus) –thought that this happened at Jesus’ resurrection, where God “made him” the Son of God (and thus the Lord, the messiah to come, the Son of Man, and so on). Later there were Christians who thought this exaltation occurred at his baptism, so that he was the Son of God for his entire ministry.
Blog members can read the rest of this post, in which I discuss why people today (without knowing it) have such difficulty understanding how ancient people understood the word “God.” They didn’t think like we do about it. Want to see what I mean? Join the blog