Published by Crossway Books on August 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology
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"Greg Lanier unfolds the rich Trinitarian framework within which the Old and New Testaments present Jesus as God's divine Son."--Scott R. Swain, author, The Trinity: An Introduction; coeditor, The Oxford Handbook of Reformed Theology
The question of Jesus's divinity has been at the epicenter of theological discussion since the early church. At the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the church fathers affirmed that Jesus is "true God from true God." Today, beliefs such as this one are confessed through creeds in churches around the world, and yet there remains confusion as to who Jesus is.
New Testament scholar Greg Lanier traces the rich roots of creedal Christology through the Scriptures, explaining six ways that the Bible displays Jesus's divinity. As you discover the overwhelming biblical evidence for the divinity of Christ, you will be drawn to the inescapable conclusion that the man Jesus Christ is more than just a footnote in history--he is truly God.
Is Jesus Truly God? This is possibly the most important question that could ever be asked. Indeed, the whole of the Christian faith hinges upon how this question is answered. Every other religion as their gurus and good teachers, their important figures and founders. Christianity’s claim is different. Not only is Jesus the Christ—the Messiah—but he is also divine. Jesus is God Himself.
This is an incredible claim. His claim to Godhood is the central reason that he was killed (Jn. 10:33). The Jewish leaders hated his teachings and disliked his power and authority, but this claim that they did not understand and could not allow. Almost every religion will agree that Christ was a good teacher. He seems to make his way into other religions as if all people from all faith backgrounds must reckon with his existence. So is he truly God? Greg Lanier, building on the creedal Christology of the early church, develops six different arguments for Christ’s divinity.
My one criticism of this book isn’t its theology, but its tone. I’m not quite sure who the audience is supposed to be. The tone is academic enough that it may scare off the average lay reader, but the content is fairly standard and rudimentary. The problem in dealing with such a foundational part of Christianity is that whatever you have to say, it’s been said a million times. And if you stray from what’s been said a million times, there’s a fair chance you’re very, very wrong.
So then we have two options. Either we become very thorough and nuanced—really play it up as an academic treatise—or we reiterate the basics and find some manner in which to relate this information in a specific context. This book sort of splits the two, talking about Christology in fairly basic overview but yet being rather academic in the process. I suppose it could be a good introduction to academic theology, I just wonder how narrow that niche is. Or, perhaps, I underestimate the desires of the average reader. I say all of this just so you know that this isn’t a simple “pastor’s book.” It’s a bit deeper and more robust than that.
The six areas that Lanier discusses are
- The preincarnate Christ
- The Father-Son relationship
- Seeing Christ in the OT
- Christ worshipped as God in the early church
- Christ as part of the Trinity
- Calling Jesus “theos” (Greek for God)
I think the most unique and, therefore, strongest aspect of the book is this final chapter, where Lanier deals specifically with the claim that Jesus is never explicitly referred to as God in the New Testament. Lanier takes seven clear instances (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:19-20; John 1:1,10:33, 20:28) and five debated instances (John 1:18, Acts 20:28, Galatians 2:20, 1 Timothy 3:16. Romans 9:5) and outlines the use of theos in those passages as it refers to Jesus.
Overall, Is Jesus Truly God? is a firm and clear explanation of Trinitarian Christology. With precision and brevity, Lanier presents the Messiah Jesus as the divine God.