His Divinity
Fr. W. Devivier, SJ
Edited by Bishop S.G. Messmer, DD, DCL
Bishop of Green Bay, Wisc.
Imprimatur, 1903

The Divinity of Christ's mission means the Divinity of His work . . . The Divinity of His Person is a question apart. Moses also was sent by God; he was also charged to establish among the Jews a new religion superior to the one that preceded it; yet it never entered into the minds of his followers to adore him as God. Jesus, on the contrary, has been adored as God for nineteen centuries by followers who glory in bearing his name and in following His doctrine. This fact is indisputable; but is Jesus entitled to this adoration, is He really God?

This is the important question which now presents itself. It belongs, it is true, to a course of Special Dogmatics, and not to Apologetics, yet we do not feel that we can pass it over in complete silence. As we have been occupied up to the present with Our Lord, as we have stated the prophecies which announced Him [in an earlier chapter] and those which He Himself uttered; as we have spoken of His life, His miracles, His Resurrection, of His influence on mankind, etc., we feel it incumbent to say a few words of that which crowns and explains all----His Divinity; particularly, as this central and fundamental truth of our holy religion admits of the most brilliant and striking verification. Relying on the incontestable proofs which we have just stated, we believe in the Divinity of the mission of Jesus, because He announced Himself as sent by God; on the authority of the same proofs [the author used many scripture passages] we must believe in the Divinity of His Person, if He positively proclaimed Himself God.

Now if there is one thing that has been incontestably proved by unnumerable and clear texts, it is that Jesus affirmed that He is God. He declared on numerous occasions, in the most absolute and unequivocal manner, that He is God, the Son of God, equal in all things to His Father Who sent Him. Let us prove this briefly. [1]

1. A very simple but peremptory argument is that every unprejudiced mind is completely convinced, by the mere reading of the Gospel, that Jesus proclaimed Himself God, equal in all things to the Father. This conviction is not merely the effect of this or that text taken out of the context, but of the whole book. The special object of St. John's Gospel, as ecclesiastical writers, St. Jerome, Tertullian, and others, affirm, is to establish the Divinity of Christ; and this is just the charge rationalists make against him. This is sufficiently evident in the beginning and the conclusion of the work. Here is the beginning:

"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. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The end is no less explicit: "These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God." Now when a Christian is convinced that such is the inevitable result of reading a book which he justly regards as inspired by the Holy Spirit, it becomes equally clear to him that this result was intended by God.

Infidels themselves, if in good faith, must admit this conclusion, since they all, with few exceptions, admire Jesus as the wisest of men, the most beautiful character that the world has ever seen, the ideal of perfection.

2. Let us now review the Gospels, and select among many texts sufficient to make it evident that they establish the Divinity of Jesus.

1st. Jesus attributes to Himself that which men have always, with reason, considered as belonging to God alone. "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (John xiv. 6). "I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (ib. viii. 12). "I am the living bread, which came down from Heaven" (ib. vi. "51). "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day" (ib. vi. 55). "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me although he be dead, shall live" (ib. xi. 25). "The Son of man shall send His Angels, and they shall gather together His elect" (Mark xiii. 27). "The Son of man shall send His Angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity" (Matth. xiii. 41). "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life, so the Son also giveth life to whom He will" (John v. 21). "For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matth. xviii. 20). "Whatsoever you ask the Father in My name He will give it to you. Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name, that will I do" (John xv. 16; xiv. 13). "And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall possess life everlasting" (Matth. xix. 29). "For what things soever the Father doth, these the Son also doth in like manner " (John v. 19). "If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him" (ib. xiv. 23). "All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine" (ib. xvi. 15). 

Our Saviour attests His Divinity no less clearly when He forgives sin (Luke v. 21-24); when He declares that He will send the Holy Spirit, as the Father hath sent Him (John xiv. 26; xv. 26); when He announces that He will come at the end of the world, to judge the living and the dead, and to render to each one according to his works (Matth. xxv. 31-46).

If we would appreciate the conclusive evidence of these texts, let us suppose for a moment that they are uttered by a simple mortal!

Jesus proclaims Himself eternal: "Before Abraham was made I am " (John viii. 58). Observe the analogy between this expression and that which David uses in speaking of God: "Before the mountains were made, . . . Thou art God" (Ps. lxxix. 2). It recalls also the sublime definition which God gives of Himself, "I am Who am." "And now glorify Thou Me, O Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with Thee" (John xvii. 5). He shows that He knows all things, even the most secret recesses of the human heart (Matth. ix. 4). He is omnipotent, for it is by His Own power that He will return to life (John x. 18). The miracles which He works and which suppose a Divine power are performed in His Own name and by His Own merits. Other thaumaturges work miracles in the name of God, in virtue of a delegated power; it was as sovereign Master that Jesus commanded nature, men, Angels, and demons: "Young man, I say to thee, arise" (Luke vii. 14). "I will, be thou made clean " (Matth. viii. 3). "Lazarus, come forth from the tomb" (John xi. 43), etc. The source of this power is so truly within Him that a miraculous virtue escapes, so to speak, from His Divine Person, without His knowledge, as we see in the healing of the issue of blood. Moreover, not only does He exercise at will this power which belongs to Him by right, but He delegates it to whom He pleases; He promises His Apostles that they shall work in His name miracles more marvellous than His Own.

2d. Jesus clearly affirms His identity with the nature of His Father, as well as the distinction of Persons, and consequently claims the worship and honors due to God alone. "I and the Father are one" (John x. 30). You believe in God, said He to His Apostles, believe also in Me (ib. xiv. 1). "God so loved the world as to give His Only-begotten Son." "He that believeth in Him is not judged; but he that doth not believe in Him is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the Only-begotten Son of God" (ib. ill. 16, 18). He wishes us to pray to Him even as we would to the Father (ib. xiv. 13; xvi. 23, 24). While He proclaims the Divine precept: The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve, He permits Himself to be adored by the man born blind, by the holy women, and by His disciples (ib. ix. 38; Matth. xxviii. 9-17). He declares that all men should honor the Son as they honor the Father (John v. 23). When St. Thomas, finally convinced of the Resurrection of his Master, said to Him, "My Lord and my God," far from censuring these words as blasphemous, Jesus publicly approved the faith of His disciple, and blessed those who in future ages would imitate his example (ib. xx. 28, 29).

3d. Let us mention particularly a few solemn occasions when, in the presence of His disciples, of His enemies, or of His very judges, or the great council of His nation, Jesus proclaimed His Divinity in the most positive and formal manner. We shall see that even those who pursued Him with implacable hatred never misapprehended the meaning of His words.

He questioned His disciples one day about Himself: "Whom do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said: "Thou art Christ the Son of the living God." Far from rejecting this clear and positive profession of faith, Jesus praises His disciple for it, and declares it to be inspired by His Father in Heaven, since He alone could make known the mystery of the eternal generation (Matth. xvi. 13-18).

On another occasion, Jesus being in the midst of the people, they said to Him: "How long dost Thou hold our souls in suspense? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered: "I speak to you and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me.  . . . I and the Father are one." On hearing these words the Jews took up stones to stone Him as a blasphemer. Jesus, undisturbed by their threats, and far from retracting, said to them: "Many good works I have showed you from My Father; for which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him: "For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that, being a man, Thou makest Thyself God." (John x.)

Behold Him now before the Sanhedrin, the supreme religious tribunal of His nation. The high priest puts the question formally in the most unequivocal terms: "I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us if Thou be the Christ the Son of God." "Thou hast said it," Jesus calmly replies. And to confirm this categorical affirmation He adds: "Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of Heaven." On hearing these words, the high priest rent his garments, saying: "What further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy; what think you? But they answering said: He is guilty of death." (Matth. xxvi. 63, 64, 65, 66.)

From this tribunal Jesus is led to the Roman governor, who, convinced of His innocence, is about to release Him, but the princes of the people cry: "We have a law; and according to the law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God" (John xix.). On Calvary we hear this significant insult: "If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the Cross." Then they who were converted by the spectacle of this Divine death strike their breasts and exclaim: "Indeed this was the Son of God" (Matth. xxvii.). Because He affirmed His Divinity Christ was condemned and suffered death.

3. Jesus, not satisfied with publicly proclaiming His Divinity, cites in support of His affirmation the testimony of His works: miracles, the infallible signs of truth, create faith in His words. When, for example, the Scribes and Pharisees, scandalized that He forgives sins, accuse Him of blasphemy, He contents Himself with replying: "That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say to thee" (addressing the man sick of the palsy), "Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house" (Luke v. 24). Again, "Believe you not," He says elsewhere, "that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? Otherwise believe for the very work's sake" (John xiv. 11). "The works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me" (ib. x. 25). "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, though you will not believe Me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" (ib. x. 37, 38).

REMARK.----Jesus Christ is at the same time perfect God and perfect Man. Equal to the Father according to the Divinity, He is less than the Father according to the humanity. The Divine nature and the human are closely united in the Person of the Word. "For as the rational soul and the flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ," says the Athanasian Creed. Consequently we can and we should attribute to Jesus Christ, God-Man, all the properties and all the actions of both natures. Hence it is true to say of Jesus that He is eternal, and at the same time that He was born and that He died. These propositions do not contradict each other, they refer to the qualities of these two different natures: if Jesus is eternal as God, as Man He is mortal. Therefore, the same Person being both God and Man, Jesus, though the Son of God, could call Himself the Son of Man, could declare His Father greater than He, could say that there were things that only His Father knew, that His Father had abandoned Him, etc.

It gives us pleasure to add that it is in virtue of this same law, called in theology communicatio idiomatum, [2] that Mary, though only a creature, is justly styled the Mother of God. No doubt this holy and spotless virgin did not give birth to the Divine nature, but she bore a Son Who is God. This will be her eternal honor; it also justifies the special homage and hyperdulia worship offered her throughout all Christian ages. How could a disciple, a brother of Jesus Christ, not place all confidence in her whom God chose to be the Mother of His well-beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased; in her whom the Doctors and Saints of the Church have been pleased to call the all-powerful advocate; in her, finally, whom Jesus, dying on the Cross, bequeathed to us as mother, and whom He made so kind, so tender, so merciful that she might help us to bear with patience the trials of this life and attain a happy eternity with Him? [3]

CONCLUSION.----It is as evident that Jesus is truly God as that He was sent by God. [4] Hence we have only to cast ourselves at His feet, and, with hearts burning with gratitude and love, exclaim with Thomas, "My Lord and my God!"


1. We have stated some of the fundamental proofs of the Christian religion. The greater number of these proofs, even if taken separately, are irresistibly convincing; one alone, duly considered, suffices to carry conviction to every honest and unprejudiced mind. To establish any truth whatever, all that is required, in fact, is one good argument; when this argument exists all the objections are necessarily of no real value; they cannot but be specious. Now here we have a host of proofs from various sources in favor of the Divinity of the Christian religion, and when each one of them is so conclusive in itself, what must they be if we take them, as we should, as a magnificent whole?

How can we reasonably doubt the Divinity of a religion in favor of which can be cited the universal expectation of ages anterior to the Christian era; the entire history of the Jewish people; the accomplishment of promises, prophecies, and figures; the superior character of the evangelical doctrine; the holiness of the life of its Author, the authority and great number of His miracles and His prophecies; the no less wonderful works of His Apostles and disciples to whom He promised the power of working miracles; the establishment, propagation, and preservation, humanly unaccountable, of the religion which He founded; the conversion of the world to this religion, which thwarted all its passions and contradicted all the reigning ideas; the transformation of society, of laws, and of morals; the unceasing testimony of Martyrs; the assent of the greatest geniuses the world ever produced; the adoration and love of noblest hearts; the beautiful fruits produced in souls by the vivifying breath of the Gospel; marvels without number of humility, of charity, of purity, and abnegation of which the world never dreamed; the successive defeat of men and systems hostile to it; the faith and piety which sprung with new life in the midst of assaults and denials; the unexpected return of minds to the faith just when her cause seemed lost? All this, in fact, constitutes the most brilliant proof of our faith, and superabundantly justifies the belief of the innumerable generations who have chosen to follow the standard of the Cross. If arguments of such a character establish only a colossal error, prostrating the greater part of the civilized world, including the greatest geniuses of mankind, at the feet of an infamous impostor, what must we think of the wisdom and goodness of God? Yes; God is wise and good, hence He has prepared numerous and convincing proofs in order that we may accept revelation, not blindly, but with an eminently reasonable assent truly worthy of Him.

2. This holy religion which Christ taught the world is binding upon all men until the end of time. The same facts which establish that God placed Himself, by means of His incarnate Son, in direct and immediate relation with man, force us to recognize the strict obligation on our part to enter into this order of grace and glory founded by Him for our benefit. No doubt in calling us to Christianity and making us His children by adoption, and heirs of Heaven, God performed an act of love, but it was also an act of authority. Our sovereign Master willed that we should accept the gifts which His goodness offered us. His infinite majesty cannot but claim the glory which He expects from His chosen creature.

Moreover, our supernatural regeneration cost the Son of God, Our Saviour, so dear, that religion, which assures us the benefits of it by applying to us the merits of His Blood, cannot be an institution which we are free to reject or accept. "Jesus Christ has left a creed to enlighten the world; Commandments to guide it; Sacraments, a sacrifice, and priesthood to sanctify it; His own representatives to rule it till the end of time. Thirty years He consecrated to His work, which was only terminated on the sorrowful tree of the Cross. How could it ever be possible to preserve our claims to Heaven and yet refuse to see a dogma in this creed, a law in this decalogue, a sacrifice on this Cross, and a Divine institution in this Church? It would be the most groundless pretension that could be imagined." (Mgr. Bresson.) The will of the Divine Legislator is manifested on this point with a clearness which leaves no room for doubt. When leaving the world He said to His Apostles: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is Baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." (Mark xvi. 15, 16.) "God," says St. Paul, "hath exalted His Son, and hath given Him a name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil. n. 9, 10). "There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a redemption for all " (1 Tim. n. 5, 6); and again he says that God hath chosen "to re-establish all things in Christ, . . . and hath subjected all things under His feet" (Eph. i. 10,22). And in the Acts we read that Jesus "is the stone which was rejected by the builders, which is become the head of the corner: . . . for there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved" (iv. 11, 12). [5]

3. The best of civilized mankind has believed in the Divinity of the Christian religion. And yet we find, even among scholars, men who reject all revealed religion or who go so far as to profess a degrading and hopeless materialism. The various causes of this deplorable blindness are set forth in many works. [6]

No doubt ignorance in matters of religion is, particularly in the present day, one of the chief causes of unbelief. But the most usual cause among young men who have received a religious education is, unquestionably, immorality. For, as Mgr. Freppel recently said: "That which prevents our seeing clearly the things of God is the great predominance of the senses over the mind. The passions are like dense vapors which, rising from the depths of the conscience, place themselves between the eye of the soul and the sun of truth and intercept the rays of eternal justice. Remove this veil and light will appear, and religion will shine forth in all the splendor of its incomparable certainty." [7]

Religion curbs the passions, it commands man to rule his senses, instead of letting them rule him; it commands him, according to the beautiful expression of Descartes, to keep his heart so high that matter cannot reach him. This is what we dread in religion, this is what constrains and vexes us, and we affect not to believe it in order to be dispensed from doing what it prescribes. Nothing is more true than this celebrated saying of Euler: "If the theorems of Euclid were moral precepts, they would have been denied long ago."
But great minds are most frequently united to noble hearts. Therefore in all ages the greatest men have been men of strong faith, sincere Christians. No one certainly would class as feeble-minded men Athenagoras, Arnobius, Epiphanius, Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Mintius Felix, Cyprian, Gregory, Cyril, Ambrose, Augustine, and many others, who in the first ages of the Church believed with fervent faith and displayed rare eloquence in the defence of their belief. Who would venture to tax with weak credulity Alfred the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Anselm, Bossuet, Fénelon, Malebranche, Bacon, Descartes, [Web Master Note] Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, and innumerable others who have never ceased to appreciate and admire the truths of Christianity?

And even the last century, so justly proud of its admirable discoveries, includes a multitude of scholars of every kind who have never faltered in their complete and entire allegiance to the truths of revelation. And to mention only representatives of sciences which are frequently made to contradict revelation, there is no doubt that the testimony of men like Volta, A. M. Ampere, Elie de Beaumont, Cauchy, Biot, Hermite, Puiseux, Le Verrier, de Blainville, Gratiolet, Secchi, Thenard, J. B. Dumas, Andre Dumont, d'Omalius, d'Halloy, Van Beneden, and many others, is quite equal to that of men like Moleschott, Vogt, Buchner, and their companions in unbelief. It would be easy to make this list of learned Catholics of the present day much longer, but this enumeration may serve as a subsidiary proof of the truth of our holy faith. [8]

Supported by such a vast and noble company we have no reason to fear that we shall be accused of blindly or imprudently accepting revealed truth. [9] We can say in the words of the illustrious mathematician Cauchy: "I am a Christian, that is, I believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, with Tycho Brahe, Copernicus, Descartes, Newton, Fermal, Leibnitz, Pascal, Grimaldi, Euler, Gudlin, Boscowich, Gerdil; with all the great astronomers, physicians, geometricians of past ages. I am a Catholic with the majority of them, and I am ready to give a reason for my faith. My convictions are not the 'result of inherited prejudices, but of a profound examination. I am a sincere Catholic with Corneille, Racine, la Bruyère, Bossuet, Bourdaloue, Fénelon; with the most distinguished men of our age, with those who have done most for science, philosophy, and literature; with those who have been the most illustrious members of our institutions. I share the profound convictions expressed in the words, the actions, and the writings of our greatest scholars, Ruffini, Haüy, Laennec, Ampere, Pelletier, Freycinet, Coriolis; and if I refrain, out of regard for their modesty, from mentioning others, I can say at least that it gave me great pleasure to find all the nobility and generosity of the Christian faith in my illustrious friends, in the inventor of crystallography (Canon Haüy), in the celebrated navigator of the Uranie (Claude Marie de Freycinet), and in the immortal author of electro-dynamics (André-Marie Ampère)."

1. We must content ourselves here with the decisive proof furnished by the words of Christ Himself. See Lacordaire, conf. 1 on Jesus Christ. Dogmatic theology gives other equally conclusive proofs, drawn from the prophecies announcing that the Messias would be God: Isaias xxxv., xxv., ix., xl.; Bar. iii.; Ps. xliv., cix., etc.; or from the teaching of the Apostles: Acts iii.; Rom. ix.; Phil. ii., Colos. i., ii.; Heb i., etc.; or from Apostolic traditions, or from ecclesiastical history, etc.
2. On this communication of properties or attributes see Hunter, II., n. 537.
3. Newman, Difficulties of Angl., II., letter to Pusey; Br. W. vii 416, viii. 59, 186; Concilio, Knowledge of Mary; Ward, Devotional Essays, 1-4; Ryder, Cath. Controversy, p. II., charge 1, §3; Petitalot, The Virgin Mother; Jeanjacquot, Sirople Explanations concerning the Most Holy Virgin; J. L. Spalding, lect. 1. 8; Gans, Mariolatry; M., Oct. 1902; Card. Gibbon, Faith of O. F., ch. 14, and in A. C. Q. iii.; Hunter, II., tr. 12.
4. To the objection: If Christ were God, the whole world would have acknowledged Him as God, Picard replies: "Such an assertion takes for granted that God cannot reveal Himself except in an irresistible manner, repressing along with liberty of faith the possibility of merit" (p. 273).
5. MacCarthy, Sermon on Unbelief: fragment of a sermon on indifference in matters of religion.
 6. Laforet, Why Men do Not Believe; Lacordaire, conf. 15, 16, on Cath. Doctrine and the Mind; M. xlvi. 531.
7. Lacordaire, ib., com. 14, 17, 18, 19.
Web Master's Note: Descartes belong to a modern school of philosophy that was not Thomistic, and helped to spur the false ideas of the Enlightenment, which he did not intend;  he retained his Catholic Faith even on his deathbed. This is why the Church has traditionally kept to Thomistic philosophy as the foundation; whenever modern Churchmen have forgotten this necessary paradigm for learning, it has led them into eventual error, if given free rein.
8. See references to P. II., ch. 5, art. 3.
9. "The Pharisees of modern as of aneient times would fain persuade us that the common people are credulous, whereas only those of refined and eultivated minds can be free from error. But even if we admit this distinction, does it follow that no Christians are highly eultured men? . . . Has not every country possessed its men of sound logic, strong, good sense, of clear discernment and prudence, and of practical knowledge of life, who have not the less been good Catholics? If such men as these, placed in circumstances which enabled them . . . to form a right judgment after weighing well the arguments on both sides, have been able to arrive at a definite conclusion and to become ardent believers, surely our opponents must admit that there remains something to be said in behalf of the faith which they consider so utterly contemptible.

"Moreover, several of the boldest and most daring Protestants in Germany, France, and England have arrived at the conviction, after free inquiry and in the unconstrained exercise of their private judgment, that the Christian facts are true and that the foundations of Christianity are impregnable. The belief of thinkers and critics of this class proves very well that, though the proofs of Christianity may be assailed, they cannot be demolished. Hence the fact that some learned men do not believe in it is by no means a conclusive argument against Christianity." Picard, p. 615 f.