Thu 5 Jul 2007
"At this gathering [the Council of Nicaea]," Teabing said, "many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops – and, of course, the divinity of Jesus – until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet – a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal." (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Chapter 55)
The Da Vinci Code repeats a common claim: That Jesus never claimed to be God, and this belief was made up by much later followers. Let's take a look at just one way that Jesus claimed divinity: He accepted worship.
First, Jesus (quoting the Old Testament) claimed that God is the only legitimate object of worship: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." (Matthew 4:10; Deut 6:13).
Second, Jesus accepted worship many times, including just a short time later when the disciples all worship Him (Matthew 14:33). Additionally:
Jesus accepted worship from Thomas (John 20:28); all the angels are told to worship Jesus (Heb. 1:6); wise men worshiped Jesus (Matt. 2:11); a ruler bowed before Him in worship (Matt. 9:18); a blind man worshiped Him (John 9:38); Mary Magdalene worshiped Him (Matt. 28:9); and the disciples worshiped Him (Matt. 28:17). [source]
Note carefully what we never find Jesus saying. He never corrected anyone by saying something like "Woah guys, you've got it all wrong, I may be a good teacher but don't worship me!"
Third, in Acts we find the early Christians doing exactly what Jesus didn't do, objecting strongly when people try to worship them. In Acts 10, Peter goes to visit a man named Cornelius, where we read: "As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself." (Acts 10:25-26) This is exactly what we don't find Jesus saying! A similar example occurs to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14:11-15.
To state this briefly:
- Jesus claimed only God should be worshiped.
- Jesus accepted worship.
- Therefore, the earliest Christians considered Jesus divine and Jesus affirmed their belief.
All of this accords with what was preached in the early Christian church. In fact, the usual tenancy that often needed to be corrected was to emphasize Jesus' divinity at the expense of His humanity!
The only way to attempt escape from this conclusion is to argue that the New Testament is not an accurate historical record. Now, besides the fact that the earliest records we have of what Christians believe are the New Testament documents, there are also many other good reasons to believe the New Testament is an accurate historical record.
- Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity – Online version of a book which defends Jesus' claim to deity.
- The Historical Accuracy of the Gospels – Dr Craig L Blomberg gives reasons to believe the historical accuracy of the gospels.
- Jesus? Who is He? – A quick Flash-based presentation for your kind consideration.