About a year and a half ago, Jacob over on “Heart Issues for Todd Wood” formulated some questions for me with this post title – “What shall we make of God’s oneness?”
He ends his post with these questions: “(1) But what are we to make of John 17? (2) Do you agree that this is the primary text from which we should interpret the meaning of God’s oneness? (3) What do you make of its emphasis on our potential to be brought into the very same oneness currently shared by the Father and the Son?”
In response, (1) John 17 is one of the most glorious and sacred texts in all of Scripture, especially for me as I live in the Mormon corridor. In answer to the next question (2), John 1 lays out the eternal unity of Jesus and the Father that I have not experienced as a finite creature. John 17 lays out unity with the Godhead that I presently experience. And in thinking of the last question (3) it is not just a future potential, I have already been given the glory.
Now, I have three questions for my readers.
(1) If thousands of Orthodox Jewish men, gathered together at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, does this reflect what Jesus is praying in John 17?
(2) If a quarter of a million LDS joined together in Salt Lake City for the 180th General Annual Conference (April 3-4), would this resemble the oneness mentioned by the Savior?
(3) What about a million bowed Muslim knees at Mecca in 2010?
John 17 lays out unity with the Godhead that I presently experience. And in thinking of the last question (3) it is not just a future potential, I have already been given the glory.
So, let me make sure I have understood your response correctly. Jesus prayes that those who believe on his words will be one with the Father in precisely the same way that the Father and the Son are one. Your response is that you are already, right now, one with the Father in the same way that the Father and the Son are one.
Are you ready to consistently stand behind that interpretation? Whenever we talk about the oneness of the Father and the Son can I correctly say that Todd Wood believes the oneness of the Trinity is no more or less than the oneness currently experienced between Todd and the Father?
That glory is God in Christ in me, Jacob.
The Father dwells in the Son. And the Son dwells in the Father. And the Father and the Son mutually dwell within believers. This is the glory of eternal life that a believer experiences right now. How can one deny this when reading John’s Gospel?
To have the Son is to have Father, and yes, I stand on this testimony. I do not presently, and will not in the future experience a glory where I have Jesus but not the Father (as it seems to be parsed out in traditional Mormon glories).
And yet this is not just exclusively an individual glory – it is the glory of the Church body right now.
Now you want to press home that Jesus is declaring His and the Father’s oneness as an exact analogy for creatures in their oneness. (And I do rejoice over this analogy for what other better analogy could Jesus use to explain this marvelous truth?) But Jesus the eternal Son who came from above in heaven is not an exact analogy of the creature who came from below on earth, made from dust. And how can one deny this when reading John’s Gospel?
You are correct that it is not an analogy at all. Rather, it is an equivalence. It is much stronger than an analogy. Jesus does not say he want us to be one with the Father in an analogous way but in the exact way that he and the Father are one. It is as clear of language as can be found for those who take the Bible at its word:
You counter with the following:
But Jesus the eternal Son who came from above in heaven is not an exact analogy of the creature who came from below on earth, made from dust. And how can one deny this when reading John’s Gospel?
This looks to me like a rationalization for rejecting John 17:21-22 as written. If they are not an exact analogy, why did Jesus draw an unqualified equivalence between the oneness he has with the Father and the oneness he wants for his made-from-dust-creatures? Shouldn’t we trust that Jesus knows what he is talking about?
As a Biblical literalist, this is not the approach you have taken for other apparent tensions in the text. I am interested that you are so willing to accept a far-fetched idea like Judas hanging himself and falling from the tree onto a sword to believe everything the Bible says, but when it comes to one of the most powerful passages of scripture you discount it as a weak analogy, when no analogy is even invoked by Jesus.
Rationalization for rejecting? Nope
Shouldn’t we trust that Jesus knows what he is talking about? Yep
I take very seriously what the John has been building all through this Gospel.
1. In the begining was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
We are not the Word. We are not God. We are not the Creator. But the Son and the Father are one as God. The Son and the Father are one as Creator. Jacob, are you saying that Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is the enabling words to give you the potential to be God and Creator.
2. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son [God], which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Who else has or ever will experience such unique oneness?
3. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Jesus says, I came down from heaven.
Did you come down from heaven like Jesus?
4. I am not of this world.
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Can other humans say, they are not of this world. Are they Yahweh as Father, Son, Spirit?
5. The Father and the Son have had an eternal, mutual indwelling – oneness.
Have you and I experienced oneness exactly like this?
6. Jesus in John 17 – I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which that gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which had with thee before the world was.
I will never pray this because I am not pre-existent, I am disobedient, and I was created not seek this kind of glory that Jesus speaks of.
Sinful creatures invited into the Spiritual Oneness presently
1. I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Think of the oneness of food, drink, and body.
2. And there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Think of the oneness of the flock and its shepherd. Oneness in belief and hearing the words. Oneness in love. And oneness spiritually with the Shepherd. And oneness in security with the Father and Son – they are one.
3. The Father is in me, and I in him (10:38). He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? (14:9-10). Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me (14:11). At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you (14:20).
And yes, I seriously take Jesus at his word in believing that I have this oneness. I am in Christ, and He is in me.
4. I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Think of the onenness enjoyed right now of resurrection life in Christ.
5. I am the true vine, ye are the branches.
Think of the oneness of the vine with its branches – the mutual abiding.
6. And the most powerful analogy that Jesus could utter from his lips to describe the spiritual oneness is in John 17:22-23, to describe that glory which he gives for three reasons. It is marvelous oneness, and it does not in any way erase the distinctiveness of the three-personed Yahweh and God’s creatures who are not Yahweh and never will be.
Joseph Smith is the one who clearly rejected in the Bible almost 200 years ago what I see so powerfully today in John 17 and all the preceding chapters. He should have believed John’s Gospel and trusted Jesus Christ.
Jacob, look back to John 17:16 in Jesus’ prayer.
Do you interpret this literally or spiritually?
What about verse 18?