In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. — John 1:1,14 (NIV 1984)
Perhaps one of the most extraordinary claims of the Christian faith is not that God created the universe (many philosophers believe there must be something outside of the universe that created the universe), or that God can work miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea, but that Jesus Christ (the Word of John chapter one) was God in the flesh. In verse one, it states that “the Word was God,” and in verse fourteen John writes that “The Word became flesh.”
This means that the God who created the entire universe (with all of its laws, energy, and matter), who knows both the position and momentum of each subatomic particle in the universe, and without whom the universe would cease to exist in less than a nanosecond—this God of “all there is or was or ever will be,” became a human being. Not only did God become fully human (while retaining full deity), he became a zygote, a fertilized ovum, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Much of this is mysterious to us. How can someone be fully God and fully human? How can God, as the second person of the Trinity, be compressed into a single human cell? We don’t fully know, but we can be filled with wonder.
This tells us several important things about the God of the universe:
- God is not the God of the deists; a God who winds up the clock of the universe and then lets it run its course without intervention. God is not only involved in the day-to-day running of the universe, he actually has stepped into his creation to become a creature.
- God cares deeply about human beings. God does not look at the heart-wrenching suffering and injustices in this world with indifference, as some accuse him of doing. Instead, God entered into this mess in the person of Jesus Christ. He was born into poverty, saw and experienced great sorrow and suffering, was sentenced to death in a series of unjust trials, and was severely beaten before being nailed naked to a roughly-hewn piece of wood. This is not a God who ignores our pain, but who takes the sin of the world upon himself.
- Zygotes matter to God. Embryos matter. The Word became flesh at the point of conception. This tells us that a fertilized egg—a zygote—is fully human, which implies that to kill a zygote (i.e. abortion) is the moral equivalent of murdering any other human.
Grace and Peace
4 thoughts on “GeoScriptures — John 1:1,14 — God in a dot”
I’ve struggled with zyglote moral issues because of our ability to return various tissue cells back into stem cells. I’ve talked with people on both extremes of the abortion issue, and concluded that people love a black and white answer to this question. Both sides argue for a hard line, in which the difference between tissue and human is a single instant. I think a more reasonable line is somewhere in the middle where that tissues develops enough to hold a soul. This means a single cell is not human, but a pregnancy in its third trimester certainly is. I’m a little nervous that the third point makes some biblical assumptions that may or may not be there… the bible is about is clear on this issues as it is on the creation event. I can already hear the angry responses, but for the sake of discussion, what if our definition of human is centered on rather a biological organism is a suitable container for a soul? Based on this it seems like a more defensible position is to define the cells as a human when it has the ability to feel pain.
Dustin — You are asking when a “reasonable line” is crossed from being tissue to being human. I believe that this occurs at the beginning or pregnancy, at the zygote stage, because I believe that God is involved in the process from the very beginning. If Jesus was fully human from the moment he existed in the Virgin’s womb, then that humanness begins very early. The Bible does not state that the incarnation began with a zygote, but it is clear it didn’t begin in the third trimester either. Mary’s pregnancy seems to have been a normal one, so I assume that it began very early: probably as a zygote, and certainly by the time of implantation when Mary’s body would have started responding to the holy embryo developing inside of her.
my one main concern in regards to zygotes being the point at which “humanness” or “ensoulment” occurs is what to do with monozygotic twins and chimerism.
If a zygote can split into two zygotes (twinning) or if two zygotes can merge (chimerism), should we also say that one soul is splitting into two or two souls are merging into one? Is that in line with Christian beliefs about the nature of the soul?
And I’m not sure we can say that Mary’s pregnancy was a *completely* normal one. The differences are quite obvious.
Hoping not to draw anyone’s ire here… just asking honest questions.
If God can place his glory and being into a human zygote, I think it would not be incomprehensible that he began this universe with all its energy and mass into a singularity. That shouldn’t be very difficult for him.