A friend urges that we accept the language of ancient Christian creeds concerning Jesus’ existence before the Incarnation as eternally “God the Son.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, say we should translate John 1:1 as “the Word was a god” and deny that God actually came as a man. What is the biblical balance here?
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Certainly John 1 says that the Logos was divine, or God, and that it became incarnate in the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “New World Translation” of the New Testament stands quite alone in claiming otherwise.
On the other hand, it is very difficult to translate the highly specialized terminology of the early Greek Councils about divine “persons” into modern English in a clear and meaningful way. Outside the philosophical context of the ancient Church Fathers, their language usually comes off sounding like three heavenly rocking-chairs in a row with God-names on them — something the Bible not only fails to affirm but positively argues against.
Because the divine Logos (“Word” or “Reason”) became human in the man Jesus, the Virgin Mary was truly “bearer of deity” and in that sense “mother of God” (theotokos). She was highly honored above all women, and all generations rightly call her blessed. To say that about Mary is to affirm deity for her firstborn child.
The marvel is that the Creator of the universe, the God of the patriarchs and prophets, actually loves his erring creatures, and that, in the baby born in Bethlehem that first Christmas so long ago, he took on our nature, then took on himself our brokenness of soul and body alike to make us pure and whole. We joyfully confess that he was Emmanuel — “God with us” — and that by his living and dying and rising again, he has brought us back to God.