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What 'Son of God' Really Means...

What 'Son of God' Really Means...

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Published by M.Usman Shahid
This article aims to elucidate with simplicity and clarity the 'true' meaning of the long controversial and contentious term 'Son of God'.
This article aims to elucidate with simplicity and clarity the 'true' meaning of the long controversial and contentious term 'Son of God'.

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Published by: M.Usman Shahid on Dec 31, 2010
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02/03/2011

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In God’s Holy Name we begin Who’s Mercy over-shadows all forever, Amen!
 What ‘Son of God’ Really Means...
Christianity’s ‘official’ creed known as the ‘Anglican affirmation of faith’goes as follows; ‘
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father...’ 
First Council of Nicaea 
(325)]. In Christian theology, the person of  Jesus was ‘Son of God’, not just a son, but the ‘begotten Son (progeny) of God’. Meaning of the same nature and of God’s genus. Like say a Brahminbegets a Brahmin, so also God, Whom Jesus addressed as ‘Father’, begetsGod (the Son). Jesus thus is considered essentially of the same kind as God,and being God’s offspring; Jesus equals with Him in rank and status,Divinity and Holiness. Christians and Muslims mutually attest that during his earthly ministry, Jesus was a prophet (one who receives information[revelation] from God), and prophet-hood necessitates immunity from any sort of abomination that would nullify his prophet-hood; that includes lying  with regards to his true identity. Based on this Christians ascertain when Jesus, being a prophet, said ‘I am the Son of God’, he must truly be that,and we must take his words as they are minus any adjustment. And certainly no one would object this deduction. Doubts, however, remain over thereality of the term ‘Son of God’ and over it’s true representation. Should itbe taken in a literal sense or does it represent a metaphor? Is it an epitomeof Divinity as seen in Christian imagery, or have they been mistakenly painting a false image of Christ all along?In the Holy Bible, ‘Son of God’ has used been used in a very general Semiticsense; for devotees, saints, clergies, kings, prophets, angels and so on. ‘Son’in Semitism carries two features and not always does ‘son’ denote offspring,but often enough stands for relation of sort, particularly when concerning God, like say God’s relationship with the Israelite nation, who’re addressedas
“Sons of the Living God”
[Hosea 1:10]. Jesus, coming from a Semiteculture, addressed his followers as ‘sons of God’ and ‘sons of the Kingdom’
 
due to their closeness with God and relevance to the Heavenly Kingdom[Mat 13:38], and used phrases like ‘son of hell’ delineating ‘dweller of Hades’: the wicked and hypocrites; those bound to enter the Abyss [Mat 23:15]. Take the name ‘Barabbas’ for instance which means ‘son of the Father’.Ironically, Barabbas of the Gospels was known as ‘Jesus Barabbas’ i.e. ‘Jesusson of the Father’, perhaps thats why Pilate had to differentiate betweenhim and the
“Jesus called Christ”
[Mat 27:16-17]. None of these titlesrepresent quality of pre-existence or indicate equality with the Divine. The
Catholic Encyclopedia 
states:
“...The word ‘son’ was employed among the Semites tosignify not only filiation, but other close connexion or intimate relationship...” 
The
 Jewish Encyclopedia 
remarks:
“Yet the term (Son of God) by no means carries the idea of physical descent from, and essential unity with, God the Father. The Hebrew idiom conveys nothing further than a simple expression of godlikeness.” 
 The Qur’an, Book which Muslims hold sacred and inspired by God towardsMuhammad[p], the Prophet, obliges faith in Christ Jesus[p] as part of theIslamic Creed in
 Messenger-ship
, and happens to be the only non-Christianscripture which necessitates faith in Jesus[p] as truth revealing Messengerand Messiah of God. But whilst doing so it, nonetheless, staunchly deniesChrist’s Divinity, and asserts the term ‘son of God’ relates to servitude,divinity, and god-likeliness; ne’er equality with the Divine:
 And they(pagans) say: “(God) Most Gracious has sired?” Glorified be He(above such descriptions)! they (in real) are (but) servants raised tohonor.
[Al-Qur’an, 21:26] The Prophet Muhammad[p] reportedly said:
whole creation is family of God 
 
 , and the most beloved to God are those who benefit His  family” 
, not that creation stems from God’s Essence as phenomena of theReal One in a sort of pantheism which Islam vehemently falsifies: but in aSemetic way of saying God is the Lord of heavens and earth, for everything therein depends upon His Providence. He watches over His creation,sustains and protects it, as a father looks after his family.Professor William Barclay, (Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism atthe University of Glasgow) a renowned Biblical preacher and minister at theChurch of Scotland, presented four possible usages the term ‘Son of God’denotes, noticeably however, none of them can be said to carry a meaning of pre-existence or co-equality with God. He wrote:
“The Old Testament has 
 
 four ways in which it uses this term. (i) The angels are the sons of God. The old story in Gen 6:2, says that the sons of God saw the daughters of men and were fatally attracted tothem. Job 1:6, tells of the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. It was a regular title for the angels. (ii) The nation of Israel is the son of God. God called his son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). In Exo 4:22, God says of the nation, "Israel is my first-born son," (iii) The king of the nation is the son of God. In 2Sam 7:14, the  promise to the king is, "I will be his father, and he shall be my son." (iv) In the later books, which were written between the Testaments, the good man is the son of God. In Sirach 4:10, the promise to the man who is kind to the fatherless is, "So shalt thou be a son of the Most High, And he shall love thee more than thy mother doth." In all these cases the term son describes someone who is specially near and close to God.” 
He goeson to conclude:
“...When we meet this title in the simplicity of the gospel story we are not to think in terms of philosophy or theology or of the doctrine of the Trinity; we are tothink of it as expressing the fact that Jesus' relationship to God was so close that no other word could describe it...” 
Daily Study Bible 
(Mark 3:7-12)] It becomes evidentbased on forgone explanation when Jesus either relates to himself or isaddressed as ‘Son of God’, it purely portrays a metaphoric meaning, andaims to describe Jesus’ intimacy with God. Though every pious individualcan be termed ‘son of God’ [Romans 8:14], Jesus can positively be said tocarry special un-parallel amity only someone as unique and holy as Jesuscould enjoy. The Holy Bible has it:
“Thou art my beloved Son; with theeI am well pleased”
[Mark 1:11], an expression of exceptional love andimmense compassion enjoyed by the most holy ones of God alone. TheQur’an relates:
Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! God giveth thee gladtidings of a word from Him: his name shall be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Coming Kingdom in (thecompany of) those most nearest to God
 
[Al-Qur’an, 3:45]. Jesus didn’tspeak of sonship as something particularly his, albeit he deserved the titlemore than anyone else. He spoke of the righteous as ‘sons of God’ and of God as ‘our father in heaven’:
“...I am ascending to my Father and yourFather, to my God and your God”
[John 20:17] he said, but only as ananalogy: for a literal connotation goes against common Semitic usage andcauses harm to simplicity in which the phrase is used in the Old and New  Testaments. Jesus’ favorite title, incidently, he’d refer himself with was ‘Sonof Man’ denoting ‘one born of reddish (dust)’ or in other words ‘Son of  Adam’ emphasizing humanness as opposed to Divinity or hypostatic unity 

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