“You’re Calling the Church is God?” No, God Called it Into Existence.

Perfect Union -- Father Son Spirit Bride


In the late 70s I presented a short version of this teaching to Rev. Dick Jefferson, my Spirit-filled American Baptist pastor at the time.  His exact words in reply: “Be careful how you say this.” 

Thus far we have studied the complete One-ness of the Christ’s followers with the Father and the Son in John 17. Paul prays that God will give us wisdom and revelation to understand what a glorious gift Christ receives when he gets us. We are the Temple of the Spirit, built of stones who differ only in their position in the Temple, but not in their material make-up. The church and Christ are one flesh according to Paul at the end of Ephesians 5. In Corinthians 6:17 we read that anyone who comes to Christ becomes one spirit with him, no longer two separate spirits. Ephesians teaches us that we are seated, at this very moment, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We have seen our partnership in the divine nature, that we are equal partners as we partake of and participate in the very nature of God as taught in 2 Peter 1:4.

No Way–You Can’t Mean that the Church is God.

This is remarkable testimony to the complete Deity of the Church. And it can seem absolutely ludicrous. From the rancor we witness in congregations to the damaging cruelty we experience, often there is nothing we can see that would give us the slightest reason to believe that the Church is Deity. 

As they say, definitions are important. And there’s a big problem with the word “church,” which has numerous meanings. Which meaning of church is in view when we say “The Church is God”?

The building in which people gather. “My, what a beautiful church!”

The main meeting of a group of Christians. “So how did you enjoy church this morning?”

The large room in which Christians gather.  “Shushh. Don’t talk in church.

The members of a particular congregation. “How will this change in pastors affect the church?”

The official hierarchy of a particular denomination or congregation. “What does your church teach about gays and lesbians?”

All the Christians on the planet. “Why is the church so divided?”

To eliminate confusion, I try to use more specific words when I discuss “church.”

    • Building
    • Church Plant
    • Sanctuary
    • Hierarchy
    • Gathering
    • Meeting
    • Congregation
    • Christendom
    • Institution
    • All Christians

Obviously, a building is not God. All the buildings used by a congregation are not God. A Sunday morning service is  not God. Christendom (all the denominations, seminaries, publishing houses, mission agencies, etc.) is not God. An institution is not God. All Christians on the planet? Yes, but that reality is unwieldy, almost theoretical. A local congregation? Much better, since that’s where we actually live, fellowship, and minister with other believers. For many of us, our local meetings are where we have our main relationships with other followers of Jesus.

Common sense tells us that no group of people is God.  True enough, but that’s why we have the scriptures, which is one source of Special Revelation from God.  Everything we’ve been looking at points to the full deity of the Church.  The Bride is as much God as the Son is God. How are we to reconcile our common sense with this neglected teaching of the Greek scriptures?

Romans 4:17

To make this a little easier, we need to look at an important description of God that is tucked away in Romans. We need to remember that everything we’v been discussing began with “God, who calls things that are not as though they were.”  Let’s look at a few translations of Romans 4:17.

 Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. (Message)

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. (NLT)

As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (ESV)

. . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. (NASB)

. . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. (HCSB)

. . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that don’t yet exist. (ISV)

God has created a co-equal Bride for his Son, something which did not previously exist. God has called into existence a People who were designated God, a People which did not before exist. The various passages from John, Paul, and Peter attest to the Church’s true, divine nature. This Bride, this People called God, did not previously exist as God, but were called into existence by the same God who created the Universe with simple “words.” 

God called things into existence things that did not exist, and God continues to call new things into existence.  Does it seem ludicrous that we call the Church God?  Remember, we are, in this very moment, seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.


 To Read More in this Series, click on The Bride of Christ is God.


About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Apotheosis, Completely One, Deeper Life, Father Son Spirit Bride, Perfect Union, Perfect Unity. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “You’re Calling the Church is God?” No, God Called it Into Existence.

  1. Ron,

    Rather than pointing out that you are “treading on dangerous ground,” I will say that you are getting close to the good news of Christ (which some will find heretical). A few years ago, I dared to tread this ground myself when I did a piece on my blog about Trinity Sunday. Here is an excerpt which I think is in the same general ballpark as your reflections:

    “I have an idea about why Christian culture has latched onto the concept of Trinity. The key affirmation in declaring that Jesus the human was also divine lies at the heart of the idea that should be truly good news. The good news that came into consciousness is that humanity shares in the very nature of God. The good news is not just that “God became man (human).” The flip side is that in the person of Jesus we were able to realize that there is something divine about humanity.

    “I realize that these are heretical-sounding words. Meister Eckhart was declared a heretic because of his views on the union of humanity with the godhead. Church authority relied very much on the sin of human nature creating a chasm between us and God, allowing for adequate political control over the masses. Eckhart, however, saw that the good news of Christ really was good news, not condemnation.

    “So even though we as a people have never been able to say it out loud, when the Church created the doctrine of the Trinity, the people were acknowledging on some level that there is something truly divine about being human. We could say it about one human, Jesus, but we have some trepidation about saying that the very being of God lies within us as well. This is in spite of the fact that Jesus himself pointed to that reality of God-within-us.”

    I do think you are coming from a more orthodox position than I, because you are seeing the redeemed of the church as partakers of the divine, whereas I dare to say that humanity itself shares in the divine nature. Then again, I prefer to approach theology and spirituality more form a poetic viewpoint.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts – I like the idea of a Bible-thumping liberal.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Thanks for your reply. Actually, I agree with you. I do believe that humanity shares in the divine nature. Sorry for being so tardy in responding. My wife passed away in June, 2014. I’ve had a lot going on. Take care.


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