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The Pre-Existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ is the central tenant of Christianity. This paper will review the pre-existence of Christ including supporting views and arguments against the pre-existence of Christ, proving that Christ did exist before His incarnation. Christ existed before the dawn of ages; he was not an afterthought in the mind of God, but rather, always was, and ever will be, as stated in the scriptures. To think otherwise would be heretical; such a statement is counter to every doctrine ever derived from the Gospels.
For centuries humankind has debated the origins of life; Christianity however, has supported the notion that life stems from Christ, and Christ comes from God, as the only manifest Son of God. Christ confirms this, as stated and proved in the book of John when Christ says,[footnoteRef:1] "And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Christ is the substantive reality, the Divine essence from which the world was formed according to the doctrine of the Trinity, which suggests that Christ is the Logos, the Word, or the existence of Christ before his actual conception. The biblical passages written by John 1:1-18 clearly prove that Christ is the pre-existent Logos, the Word, according to what some refer to as the Trinitarian vantage. [1: John 1:1-18 KJV. Christ is identified with the pre-existent divine hypostasis called Logos.]
Trinity and Pre-Existence
The Trinity is the belief that the Godhead exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It lays the foundation for the pre-existence of Christ, stating that Christ existed before the world was formed. In God's omnipotence, and all-knowing which laid the foundation for all things, God pre-formed Christ, and new that He was, even before He was (Farnell, 1998). This is clearly stated in the scriptures, and is described in terms of Christ being the Word, the Logos of all there is. The Trinitarian view as some call it, states:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made[footnoteRef:2]. [2: John 1:1-4]
Other scriptures supporting this belief include Genesis 3:13-15 (Burt, 2006: Farnell, 1998). Burt (2006; 1996) and many others (Roy, 1963; Moon & Reeve, 2002) note that the belief in a "one living and true God, and three persons in the Godhead" is essential to the truth of the pre-existence of Christ. There are many places in scripture that speak of Christ as Lord. He reflects the word and wishes of the Father, because He is from the Father, created by the Father, came from the Father from the beginning of ages. This is reflected in other theology, as in the Nicene Creed. There are some religions through time that have broken from mainstream to suggest that the man Christ was a man alone, divinely inspired, but these have lost the central tenants of truth, which one can see if they examine scripture closely, suggest only that Christ is God, comes from God, and pre-existed within God and from God, with all of the powers of God to do the things that God inspired by covenant with His people from love.
Without this belief, Christianity cannot exist, and the authority of Christ in God would have absolutely no power. The authority of Christ would be essentially defunct, useless, usurped by untruths and mythological beliefs, much like any other false or impure religious belief. This is why pre-existence is such an important tenant of the Christian faith, and is much more than a belief or idea to be upheld. Without it, Christianity would fail miserably. Without it, atonement would not exist, salvation would not come, and the Logos and Word would not exist.
The pre-existence of Christ is the central foundation of Christianity. It is the foundation on which the church stands. Without this belief, the atoning work of the cross comes into question. The pre-existence of Christ has been taught since the early Church, since approximately A.D. 33, the time of the earliest churches. It has been re-affirmed during the New Testament; the acceptance of this premise affects all of Christology and the understanding of central premises of Christianity. The traditional teaching of Christianity rest on the notion that Christ existed before he incarnated into the man Jesus Christ. God the Son is the second person of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Trinity.
Without the pre-existence of Christ, the incarnation of God into Christ Jesus could not occur, nor could the salvation of humankind. The covenant created on the Old Testament could not have occurred, nor could the salvation come into full force. God new of the pre-existence of Christ well before Christ incarnated. Christ was formed in the mind of God before Jesus became the deity Jesus Christ. This is clearly established in Old and New Testament scriptures. To argue otherwise would be heretical and counter to all written in scripture. This is one of the primary reasons pre-existence of Christ is so critical and central to scripture and Christology.
The most famous passage quoted is that of Bernard Ramm (1993) "It has been standard teaching in historic Christology that the Logos, the Son, existed before the incarnation." This is the pre-existence of Christ (p. 47). Among other texts and scriptures used to support this thesis includes John 14, 8:58, Corinthians 8:6, Hebrews 1:2 and others. According to Ramm, the expression of the pre-existence of Christ refers to the idea that Jesus was never an afterthought in the mind of God; he was also something God planned for the eternity of humanity (Ramm 47). This is an important concept because it affirms the notion that Jesus is not a mythological creature or leader, much like many of the heroes of times past. Rather, Jesus is God; he came into the world by choice, and came into the world as planned from the beginning of creation. He was not introduced because of a cultural influence, or because of a particular situation, but because He is God and the Almighty, because of the humanity (Elert, 1960, 2003; Ramm, 1993).
Pre-Existence and New Testament
There was no question in Jesus mind regarding His pre-existence. There are many instances in the New Testament where Paul, John and other authors affirmed the pre-existence of Christ. These writers understood the importance of the pre-existence of Christ. In the Gospel of John, Jewish leaders argue with Jesus, interrogating him regarding his authority. They question him regarding his identity, asking him who he is. He states, "Before Abraham, I am." He states his own divinity, putting himself equivalent to God, using the same terms that God used when speaking with Moses in Exodus 3:14, when god states to Moses that he should say to the sons of Israel when they question Moses regarding who sent him, that he shall state, "I AM" hath sent him[footnoteRef:3] (McCready 1997). Jesus recognized in His own pre-existence, as did the people around him, whether or not they accepted it, as the Jewish leaders did, although they felt threatened, as they did, by demanding he be stoned. [footnoteRef:4] [3: John 8:58 "Ego eimi" I am, also Exodus 3:14, Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I am sent me to you…] [4: Bradley, Delon. Liberty Baptist; Knox, John, 1967. The humanity and divinity of Christ: A study of Pattern in Christology. p.10]
There are many passages in John affirming Jesus' pre-existence, as in Paul; affirming statements that state "All things came into being through Him…" and "For by Him all things were created."[footnoteRef:5] It is clear that there is nothing in the world existed before Christ, or that was without Christ. Much of the bible clearly states that God offered his own son as atonement, as a sin offering for our own sins. Looking back to the Old Testament, God metaphorically asks if humankind would do the same as a token of loyalty to God. Consider Abraham for example, when asked if he would give his own son, Isaac, to God as an offering, a sign of his loyalty. At the last moment, angels rush in to hold his hand. But, because Abraham is willing to do this, all of Abraham's descendants receive the gifts of Christ. This divine act is a momentous occasion, linked to God's own love for his people. There are many common themes linked to God's grace and justification, attributes that are similar to Christ. [5: Reference back to John 1:3 again, and cross-reference to Col. 1:16, Bruce 1990.]
Opposing Views to Pre-Existence
There are some that oppose the view of Christ as pre-existence. Many of these hold a view of enlightenment. Many who disbelieve the truth of pre-existence state that Christ's pre-existence is mythology, and state that this is an idea in the mind of god. Some state the…[continue]
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