Did Jesus exist before he was born to Mary?

I was visiting with my brother yesterday, who pastors a church on the left coast. He's pondering something he read in my dad's latest book, Christ's Basic Bodies.

The Godhead has always existed, comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is not being challenged (whew!). Christ the Son has always existed, but was not on earth until he inhabited Jesus at conception within Mary.

If this is correct (and I believe it to be correct) then why do we sing and talk about a historical man-Jesus all the time and not an everlasting, indwelling, incarnate-Christ as saved believers? We don't call ourselves Jesusians... we call ourselves Christians or followers of Christ.

Don't get me wrong...I'm certainly joyful about Jesus' death and resurrection and fully in touch with my own depravity and the need for a Savior. It just seems as if we focus on the man inhabited by Christ more than Christ these days...

If Jesus did not exist before he was born to Mary? How then should this change the way we worship and share CHRIST to a lost world?

... your comments are not simply welcomed, they're required. Do let me know your thoughts on the topic and how it would change one's theology!

9 comments:

Scott D said...

I serve in an Orthodox country (Romania) and have recently been reading Orthodox theology in an attempt to bridge from my western theological orientation. One thing that I think Eastern Orthodox theology has a better hold on is just this issue. When they speak of the incarnation (which itself is more of a western theological term/concept) they do so from the perspective that the Son, being eternally preexistent with the Father, actually took all of human nature into Himself and thus became completely human as well as completely divine. This perspective takes Philippians 2 to a whole new level of "emptying himself." And what love it shows that the Son would totally embrace my humanity (and me!) with all of its short-comings and frailties in order to restore relationship with me!

Randall Neighbour said...

Good stuff, Scott...

I still think it has to change the way we're all taught to pray as children.... "Dear Jesus..."

The focus still remains on the life and death of Jesus the man seemingly at the expense of an indwelling Christ, don't you think?

Dan Bru said...

"It just seems as if we focus on the man inhabited by Christ more than Christ these days..."

". . . why do we sing and talk about a historical man-Jesus all the time and not an everlasting, indwelling, incarnate-Christ . . ."

This just does not sound right to me, Randall. Jesus is the eternal God-man, fully divine and fully human. Your language makes it sound as if "Jesus" and "Christ" are two different people. Am I misunderstanding you?

Randall Neighbour said...

Dan, I'm not saying that Jesus and Christ are two separate or different people. Jesus was the Christ.

Jesus just didn't exist before he was formed in Mary's womb. Christ existed though, and inhabited the body of Jesus.

Some will argue that this is semantics, but I have a concern that is motivated by a distinct lack of acknowledgment and focus on Christ here and now in our lives and among us when we gather in His name.

Everything I seem to sing about and talk about in my church is the historical Jesus and what he did for me 200 years ago... (and I'm REALLY grateful for it, don't get me wrong!)

Compared to the focus on the life of Jesus the Christ, the everlasting and indwelling Christ is rarely mentioned...

and both are very important, no?

Randall Neighbour said...

Correction: 2000 years ago!

Iain said...

Actually when I look at this issue I think that the Holy Spirit lives in me, not Jesus. Of course the Holy Spirit is another who is like Jesus - in the same way that the Word of God always was the Word of God before he became the fleshly man Jesus (who is fully divine by the way). So whatever the terminology you want to use, God lives in me. I think of the man Jesus I read of in the bible as an historical figure, who is now living at the right hand of God NOW in a glorified body (resurrected). Of course the mystery of the Trinity allows that God (Holy Spirit) lives in me now, which is so important for daily living!! So this good old fashioned Pentecostal theology helps me make sense of where I am at NOW in relation to God's indwelling presence. Just don't ask me to explain the Trinity please!

Randall Neighbour said...

Iain, thanks for contributing.

Is Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father right now or is it Christ?

The activity of the Holy Spirit within us indicates an indwelling presence of Christ.

You'd really enjoy reading my dad's book, "Christ's Basic Bodies." It sorts all of this out nicely.

G-Mart said...

The Christian faith is not dependent on whether Christ existed before he was born to Mary in the human form of Jesus. His death and resurrection are the foundations of Christianity. Those were things that happened on earth, after he was born to Mary. With that said, the debate about whether Jesus preexisted the world or not shouldn't matter in relation to how we worship or share Christ with the world.

Randall Neighbour said...

G-Mart, this is not a debate to me. It's more of an issue of **how** we share what God is doing in us and through us and in the world today vs. the many who only have a conversion experience to share and talk only of the historical Jesus and his death on the cross for their sins.