The theological basis for this response
This answer is based on the Bible interpretations and Christian theology put forth by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), which is the basis for the Bible interpretations and theology of the various New Church, or Swedenborgian, denominations that were founded after his death.
- This theology is not unitarian as that is usually defined, because Swedenborg stated that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all fully divine, and are God.
- This theology is not trinitarian as that is usually defined, because although Swedenborg stated that there is a Trinity in God, he denied that the Trinity consists of three persons, but stated that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in a single person of God.
- It is also not modalist, as explained in this answer.
From a Swedenborgian Christian perspective, it is trinitarians themselves who have not met the requirements for monotheism, as covered in this answer.
Note: This answer will not attempt to provide a full biblical basis for its statements, as that basis is so extensive that doing so would swell this answer far beyond the character limits imposed by this website. For those who want the full biblical basis behind this answer, I refer you to True Christianity, volume 1, by Emanuel Swedenborg. (The link is to my own book notice for this book.)
To properly answer this question, I must divide it into several points, the first being:
1. Jesus was not fully divine at birth
According to the Gospels, Mary, an ordinary human being, was Jesus' mother, whereas God was his Father. This means that at the time of his birth, Jesus had both a finite, limited, sin-prone human nature from his human mother Mary and an infinite, unlimited, eternal divine nature from his divine Father.
This dual nature, finite human and infinite divine, persisted throughout Jesus' lifetime on earth. It was not until after the Resurrection that he was fully divine, having by that time replaced all the finite humanity that came from his human mother with an infinite divine humanity that was the expression of his inner divine nature, which was God, also known as the Father.
During his lifetime on earth, Jesus' conscious awareness alternated between his finite human side and his infinite divine side. This is why he sometimes speaks to, and of, the Father as if to, or of, a separate being, and other times says that he is one with the Father, and that everything he says and does is from the Father within.
Without an understanding of Jesus' process of "glorification," or becoming fully divine, during his lifetime on earth, it is impossible to understand and reconcile the various statements by and about him in the Gospels and in the rest of the New Testament.
For a fuller explanation of these points, please see this answer.
2. During Jesus' lifetime on earth, he was literally the Son of God
Because Jesus had a human mother and a divine Father, during his lifetime on earth he was quite literally the Son of God.
Every human being is the son or daughter of his or her human father through that person's father having impregnated that person's mother, resulting in his or her conception and birth.
Similarly, Mary was impregnated by a father, but in this case it was the divine Father, resulting in Jesus' conception and birth. Therefore Jesus was the Son of God via Mary.
3. After the Resurrection and Ascension, Jesus was no longer literally, but figuratively the Son of God
As stated above, during his lifetime on earth, Jesus gradually replaced everything that came from his human mother with a divine humanity that was the expression of the divine Father. At the time of his Resurrection, he was therefore no longer the son of Mary, since there was nothing left of Mary in him.
This means that at the time of the Resurrection, he was no longer literally the Son of God. Rather, he was simply God, because:
4. God is indivisible; therefore Jesus never separated from the Father
Every human being born on this earth separates from both father and mother, and becomes a distinct person of his or her own.
With God's divine self, this is not possible. God is fully and utterly One, and cannot be divided into more than one. Therefore, since God, known as the Father, was Jesus' own inner being, Jesus never separated from his Father, but instead became more and more one with his Father.
This is the same as saying that Jesus, as he replaced everything from his human mother with the divinity of his Father, became fully one with God, and became, quite simply, God.
5. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three Persons of God, but three "essential components," or in more ordinary language, "parts" of God.
Although, as stated above, during his lifetime on earth Jesus was literally the Son of God, this literal sonship lasted only during his lifetime on earth.
Once Jesus' lifetime on earth was complete, and he ascended to the Father, this literal sonship no longer existed. Rather, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are metaphors for three essential components (Latin: essentialia) of God.
Unlike the Nicene Trinity of Persons, which no one can really understand, this Trinity in one Person of God is very easy to understand. Genesis 1:26–27 says that we humans, both male and female, are created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore if there is a Trinity in God, there must also be a trinity in human beings. Using us humans as an example, here is how we can understand the Trinity in one Person of God:
- "The Father" mentioned in the Bible is like our soul.
- "The Son" is like our body.
- "The Holy Spirit" is like everything we say and do.
Even a five-year-old can easily understand this.
- The Father is the Divine Love
- The Son is Divine Truth
- The Holy Spirit is Divine Power
These are not three Persons—which is polytheism—but three "essential components" of God, who is fully and completely One, both in essence and in person.
For a fuller explanation of the true biblical Trinity in the One Person of God, please see this article on my website:
Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?
6. Swedenborg's Trinity in one Person resolves all the thorny biblical issues about the nature of God
If we understand all of these points, and several more that there is not time to delve into here, all of the statements about Jesus in the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles, and all of the prophecies of Jesus in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, make complete and beautiful sense, with no difficulties and no contradictions.
7. Scripture quotations from the question
To take up just the few passages mentioned in the question itself:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it. . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1–5, 14)
Here "God" is the same as "the Father." It represents the divine Soul, which is love (1 John 4:8, 16). "The Word" represents the divine Wisdom, which is the light mentioned in the rest of the passage. It was through Divine Wisdom that Divine Love created all things.
And it was as divine wisdom, or divine truth, that Jesus, who is the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5), came to earth. This is why it says that "the Word became flesh and lived among us."
Divine Love and Divine Wisdom are not the same as one another, hence they are "with" one another. But they are also both fully and inseparably God, so that the Word also was God.
It is in this same sense that the Father and the Son are not the same, hence they are "with" one another. But they are also both fully and inseparably One God, so the Son is God, just as the Father is God. The Father is the Divine Love, and the Son is the Divine Wisdom manifesting the Divine Love to humans both on earth and in heaven.
Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58)
Here Jesus is speaking from his inner divine being, or divine soul. During his lifetime, when Jesus' conscious awareness was in his inner divine being, he spoke of himself as the same being as God, the Father. This is why here, contrary to what some claim, Jesus did say that he was God.
Though many people today don't understand this, his listeners understood his meaning very clearly. That is why, in the very next verse, it says that they picked up stones to stone him. Two chapters later they explain why they picked up stones to stone him: "The Jews answered, 'It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human, are making yourself God'" (John 10:33).
Unfortunately, through the centuries of increasingly false "Christianity," the clear meaning of Jesus' words has been lost, such that some people can claim that nowhere does Jesus say he is God. Further, after his Resurrection, when he was fully God, Thomas, one of his disciples, addressed him as "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), and Jesus did not correct him.
Jesus knew that he was God. However, during his lifetime he also had a human side that was not God. This is why the Gospels don't explicitly call him God until after the Resurrection.
About this statement in the question:
Jesus acknowledged the Father to be God.
Yes. Because his Father was God. And Jesus himself said that he and the Father are one (John 10:30), and that those who have seen him have seen the Father (John 14:9). In other words, Jesus was, as the Gospel of Matthew tells us, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).
You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7)
This, also, is why Jesus, after his process of glorification, could be no other than God. Not some supposed unbiblical "Second Person" of God, but God. And this is why Jesus himself, in prophecy and in the New Testament, is also called "Father." For more on this, please see this article on my website:
Is it Right to Call Jesus "Father"?
Once we recognize that the Son of God is not some unbiblical "eternally begotten Second Person of the Trinity," but rather is God himself come to be with us, to teach us, and to save us, just as the Bible says, all the problems about God being fully and completely One disappear.
There are not three Persons of God. Conceptually and in reality, that is simply three gods, which is polytheism.
No, there is one God and that God is the Lord God Jesus Christ.
I realize that I have hardly done justice to these points here. If you want to know the biblical truth that will set you free from all these biblical "contradictions," please do yourself a favor: read Swedenborg's book True Christianity. Then all the mystery and confusion of Nicene Christianity will be cleared from your mind. Then you will have a clear path to seek and know the true God, who is One both in essence and in person, and who is with us personally as our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.