And here is the answer to the question so often put to us by those outside the Christian faith: “Prove to me that Jesus is divine.” We can’t. Such “proof,” such as it is, is only available to those who have heard the summons of the risen Christ, been baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection, and now indwell the eucharistic life of the Church.
Nathan writes: “I can’t agree with Father Kimel here: I do not think that it is responsible for Christians to speak in this fashion.”
Irresponsible? That’s pretty strong language. In response to my statement, Nathan refers us to a couple of texts in the Book of Acts, a brief citation to Michael Polanyi, and a lengthy citation from one of my favorites, Lesslie Newbigin. Readers may want to jump over to his article and take a look. I’m not going to respond to directly to his arguments as I think Nathan misses the key point: the dogma of the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is revelation, and therefore can only be received by divine faith and experientially confirmed in the sacramental life of the Church. How could it be otherwise?
Apart from the eyes of faith, Jesus is just a man. Maybe an extraordinary man or a strange man or a crazy man, but a man nonetheless; indeed, orthodox Christianity insists precisely on this fact, that he was (and is) a man and not a demigod or a god pretending to be a man. Yet faith confesses that this man, in the perfect integrity of his humanity, is God from God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father.
I do not know how one could go about proving such a remarkable claim beyond a reasonable doubt. One can certainly point to Christ’s miracles, the provocative elements in his teaching, and the eschatological authority with which he preached; but there have always been miracle-workers, interesting teachers, and prophets. But what about our Lord’s resurrection? Doesn’t that prove his divinity? Not necessarily. By itself, God’s raising Jesus from the dead only publishes God’s approval of Jesus. And how does one demonstrate that it was God who raised Jesus from death, as opposed, say, to aliens from another planet using some marvelous piece of advanced technology?
I do not know how to prove the divinity of Jesus beyond a reasonable doubt, yet I believe and confess it with divine faith. I do so because I receive the apostolic claim as revelation from the Almighty Creator. Isn’t that what Christians have always done?