A friend brought up the following issue, over on kwakerskripturestudy.blogspot.com;
and no one has yet responded, while I'm increasingly curious, myself, what light we might find on it:

Is the relationship between Jesus and God unique?

If it is, in what way is it so?

If that's not the difference, what, if anything, is?

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What canst I say? Oy!

The theological problem here... is that Church councils, practicing theopolitics against each other, tried to turn The Trinity Doctrine into a compulsory morsel of theofact--whereas theology is only useful as theopoetry.

I am not disparaging poetry, but rather saying: Poetry is our highest verbal approach towards understanding anything that really matters.

The theopoem they established was a theopolitical compromise, utterly unlogical--but a fortunate one, and immensely significant.

Faced with a choice between "Jesus was only a man" and "Jesus was God," they insisted that the answer had to be "both"!

This says something very "heavy" about what it is to be a human being!!! This (indirectly) says something powerful about the value of the physical creation! The true purpose of religion, so far as this is true, can not be to eliminate our humanity, nor our physical embodiment.

(I haven't quite answered the question (sorry) but hope to take it up further soon!)
As you indicate with "theopolitics," the councils were looking for an orthodoxy they could present to the world and require of "believers" as a "litmus test." Some day someone will write about the great failed doctrines of the church, including "Trinity," using the Pauline purpose for doctrine stated in 1 Tim "so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
Having said that, I see Jesus as the embodiment of that Way we can relate to God. In that sense, it is only unique in and as we fail to live that Way.
As Hystery says, we end up having to go through a lot of the same process. I mean, we can recognize something divine in the fact that we're embodied at all... and recognize the divinity of the spirit that lives us... but then we find ourselves going into some situation where physical embodiment might hurt, like a time I remember when I'd publicly said I'd do a vigil, and I knew the local authorities wouldn't be happy, but I didn't know how they were going to respond. (I know it can be fun sometimes, but getting arrested, even by the kindest, gentlest, most sympathetic-to-the-cause cops, is, excuse me, unpleasant!) So there I was that evening, standing near the site with some friends, wondering how I'd know the right time to go on in and sit. I didn't. So I started walking, and my friends came along, and it was one powerfully guided night, after that! I'm not saying I was facing crucifixion, or anything like it; I'm saying that the human uncertainty people can feel, even while trying to do something they recognize as God's will, reduces us to helplessness. And then we take a step. Jesus must have known the divine Life in him, and learned to put his faith in that; but the need to go forward in vulnerability is a universal human given, something I feel no matter how many times I've done it; the next time is always a new occasion where I don't know how I'll survive uninjured, or whether I'll survive at all.

It's also quite conceivable, even likely, that Jesus was so tightly tuned into the Spirit that as the gospels said, he knew beforehand, beyond all his hope otherwise, that he wasn't going to survive that last walk to Jerusalem. But also knew, with equal certainty, that nothing they could do to him would be final.

Unique? I don't know the whole human race. But I know from inside, that God comes to life in us, and shapes us as we live, into weirdly beautiful forms sometimes, into beautifully simple forms sometimes--but much the same in essence as a man is like a woman. Other people's virtues are my virtues; their mind is the same mind I'm given; their flaws are my flaws (even though Peter Larkin sayeth of our parents, that "They fill you with the faults they had, and add some new ones, just for you!") "Unique" would imply that Jesus was something else, something much like a human being, only utterly different!

Maybe it takes a paradox to heal us? [By the way, thanks for the question!)
To ask the question about the uniqueness of Jesus' relationship with God is to get sucked into theopolitics and is fundamentally unQuakerly. Part of the truth testimony is not to say things that you don't know from experience to be true. How could anyone know from experience that Jesus' experience was unique? They would have to experience Jesus' relationship to God and experience everyone's relationship with God and then compare. Not possible. What is possible is for intellectuals to speculate--to spin elaborate theories out of fragments of Bible verses. This is exactly the sort of "professing" that early Friends railed against.

One of the greatest things about the Quaker tradition is that it undercuts all this intellectual gamesmanship. It is a call to stop speculating and just try to pay attention to our experience of the Spirit and not to say anything that doesn't directly issue from that experience. And what 300 years of practicing this shows is that the experience humbles people and makes them willing to help each other. Intellectual speculations woven out of fragments of Bible verses on the other hand seems to lead to power grabs and political manuevering.
Friend Forest,

A dear friend of mine, who is the cheekiest Quaker alive by his own admission, always says that Jesus was the first Quaker! But in the shadow of thy question I am finding that the incarnation and ensuing life of teaching and example by Jesus demonstrate powerful testimonies! And Jesus certainly does remind us of OUR Incarnation of Inner Light in so many ways, too numerous to mention here.

Is his relationship to God unique? I am inclined to think so if I look at jesus as the "new Adam." The first Adam was "made" by God, and as such develops the physical aspects of our humanity. Jesus is "incarnated" and speaks thoughout his life to our own incarnations and development of what can be described as nothing other than the Inner Light, and is the first to do so in said capacity! Dost thou think my cheeky Friend is onto something with this line of reasoning? And am I a silly goose for following his lead? :)

Every Blesing Upon Thee!

Art thou engaging in a political power grab in this discussion? It reminds me of the time a lawyer sent my wife a letter to tell her she'd written an illegal book! Or something Ursula LeGuin wrote about being told to 'write about what you know,'-- "If I don't write about my own imaginary countries, who will?"

I am not claiming to know an answer here; I'm asking the question because spinning elaborate theories out of fragments of Bible verses is something that I and my buddy George Fox love to do. I know we aren't entirely Quakerly, but I hope that's okay! (We are intellectual beings; get used to it! Want to play too?)

What I do know is that Jesus is quoted saying things that, at least to my mind, strongly suggest that all human beings are also embodiments of God, that what we need most is to know this so thoroughly that life doesn't scare us into theft, violence, or sheer hiding-under-the-bed. So our own relationship to God can serve as a basis; we don't need a survey because there's this fundamental identity that goes deeper than all the glaring differences between us.

One thing I've repeatedly experienced over the years, has been that the effort to work through religious questions with a group of people brings out rich nourishment, some of it through my own mind, some of it from people I'd been inclined to undervalue! (We often help each other, and being humble is what we does best... Seriously, we find no need to strive for humility!)

I invariably feel, rightly or not, that God is providing and using this process to deepen our understanding of life and our place in it. Unlike Jews and Tibetan Buddhists, Quakers don't consider it a religious obligation. But maybe we should?
Hmm. We get different pictures of Jesus from different gospels, and when you read John you're getting a person who talks entirely different from the man in the synoptic gospels; it might be best understood as a dramatisation of 'The Meaning of Jesus' by people who felt he was still around, teaching them posthumously. (You can see why this book was a traditional favorite of Quakers.)

The synoptics' picture shows Jesus talking much more like a down-home human being, sometimes speaking as if ''for God" but putting little or no emphasis on personal theological claims; what divinity you see in him is pretty much by implication. "Incarnation" is much less a theme; but right relationship to God is stressed. He selects two basic commandments; one is to love God with all our faculties and "The other is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself." One explicit meaning of saying those commandments are alike, echoed in several other passages, is that the way we treat other humans is how we are treating God--but you might find another implication in it (also in various places in the Hebrew scriptures): that human beings are incarnations of God.

Jesus might have been much more explicit about that, talking in private with disciples. So 'John' could well have been an effort to pass on that teaching.

You had people who were intimately acquainted with God, various ways, before Jesus. The prophets would deliver 'the word' they were given for some specific occasion. What seems different about Jesus was the way he'd integrated this; when he was talking for God he was just talking, no need to add "Thus says the Lord!" Maybe this is a way to consider statements like: "The Word became meat."

Would being "first to do so", if true, make him unique in a meaningful sense? I dunno.

If an idea seems to shine some light on what God is up to, why not follow awhile? The important kind of truth is not a property of statements to be believed-or-not, but rather, a property of minds that examine and use them for understanding!

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