Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God's Outstretched Arm (continued)

The outstretched arm of God is a powerful image in Christianity, too. Witness Michelangelo’s beautiful “Creation of Adam” painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!  Unlike our Jewish and Muslim cousins, Christians are comfortable imaging/imagining God, yet without worshiping the image itself or losing sight of the reality that God cannot ever be imaged/imagined in all God’s fullness and glory.  We believe that God has created every human being in God’s image, and that, in the person of Jesus Christ, we can see that divine image fully revealed. For this reason, we seek to conform our lives to the life of Christ—not just to the prophetic teaching of Jesus, but to the very being of Christ—by loving wholly, unconditionally and limitlessly.  The term “Son of God” is not understood by Christians as a reference to Joseph’s or Mary’s son; like other monotheists we believe that God is One and undivided. “Son of God” is simply a way for our finite brains to conceive an eternal relationship through which God gave and gives to us God’s very self to be with us in our joys and in our suffering, and to offer us the redemptive Grace of an ever-deepening awareness and experience of God. That is why the historical Jesus, a Jewish man situated in time and place, can be understood as the eternal Christ—of one being with God—who can be seen and embodied in every person. Depictions of Jesus Christ, the Icon of God, can thus be windows for us through which God’s presence, and God’s forever outstretched arm, may be revealed.

This is a response to Tziporah's post of March 20th. Please share your thoughts about using anthropomorphic terms to talk about God in the comments section. 


  1. In researching for my book on 40 religions, I found that the "way" Christ is perceived is not the same for all Christian faiths. The differences were matters of contention throughout the point that different denominations have developed BECAUSE of how Jesus Christ is understood. He is in fact considered the Son of God by all Christians...but HOW that is accomplished is still a dividing factor even 2000 years later:
    Is He half human / half God?
    Is He fully human /yet fully God
    Is He some miraculous NEW being altogether?

    Is it any wonder that many other faiths don't take Christians seriously because they cannot even agree among themselves.

    That being all fairness, MANY religions and faith practices have divisions amoung themselves that have broken off for one reason or another. It is sad for us all.

    1. So true, Robyn, that there is little agreement on big issues in all the major world religions. There seems to be something in human nature that feeds our need to create divisions and distinctions. I don't believe, however, that this internal dispute among Christians about the understanding of Jesus is a reason those of other faiths don't take Christians seriously. I take comfort in knowing that serious, devoted Christians cannot agree on Jesus/theology in the same way that Jews cannot agree on anything. No doubt you came across, in your research, the adage: 2 Jews, 3 opinions! B'shalom, Tziporah