Jesus is not GodSeptember 19, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
There’s an interesting follow-up to last Friday’s post on the so-called “dual nature” of Christ. As we discussed before, the reason Christians have come up with the idea that Jesus possessed both a human nature and a divine nature is because the Bible very clearly states, in a number of places, that Jesus had certain weaknesses and limitations that were inconsistent with the idea that he was God. Consequently, theologians needed some way that two contradictory claims could both be true, and they “solved” the problem by assigning Christ a dual nature. Geisler and Turek illustrated this approach by showing how it allows Christians to ask simple questions about Jesus, and claim that the true and correct answer is both yes and no.
[D]id Jesus know the time of his second coming? As God, yes; as man, no. Did Jesus know all things? As God, yes; as man, no… Did Jesus get hungry? As God, no; as man, yes. Did Jesus get tired? As God, no; as man, yes.
In other words, the whole point of the “dual nature” Christology is to make it possible to make true statements about Jesus having the characteristics of being God, and at the same time make equally true statements about Jesus not having the characteristics of being God. That is, Geisler and Turek think that you can truthfully say that Jesus did know the time of his second coming, even though you can also truthfully say that Jesus did not know the time of his second coming. That’s important (to Christians) because Jesus himself claimed ignorance of the date, so if he did know, then he was lying to us.
The point I want to emphasize is that, according to this system, it doesn’t matter whether the statement about Jesus having non-divine characteristics is a contradiction of the claim that he was God. His human nature is supposed to allow us to say anything we like about him lacking the traits of deity, and these things are still true despite the fact that they contradict his dogmatically asserted deity.
The fun part starts when we use Geisler and Turek’s framework to ask the simple question, Is Jesus God? You know the formula, right? The answer is, “As God, yes; as man, no.” In other words, the same principle that allows trinitarians to claim that Jesus was both fully God and fully man also allows us to declare, as Biblical truth, that Jesus was not God. As man, Jesus did not possess omniscience, even though God is supposedly omnscient. As man, Jesus became hungry and weak and tired, even though God is supposedly omnipotent. Thus, as man, Jesus possessed the traits of not being God, because as man Jesus was not God.
The thing is, when the Bible talks about Jesus’ weaknesses and limitations, it does not qualify the claim with the magic formula “as man.” Jesus didn’t say, “As man, the Son does not know the day nor the hour.” You don’t state the “as man” part, you just say that Jesus had the non-divine trait. So the true, Biblical, undeniable statement is, “Jesus was not God.”
I think Christians might have a hard time dealing with this. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, Jesus was as human as me,” but it’s another thing to come right out and say “Jesus was not God.” The contradiction is easier to ignore when you can tell yourself that Jesus just had a dual nature, but when you come right out and say the words “Jesus was not God,” it puts the contradiction right in front of your nose.
The trouble is, Christians can’t deny the truth of the statement “Jesus is not God,” according to dual nature Christology. They can assert the contradictory premise that Jesus is God, but the whole point of dual nature Christology is to sustain the conclusion that both contradictory claims are equally true. If you can’t declare that it is absolutely true that Jesus is not God, then neither can you claim that it’s true Jesus lacked the attributes of deity, like omniscience and omnipotence. And that brings the clear statements of the New Testament in direct conflict with the idea that Jesus was God.
For skeptics, this may seem like no big deal, because we don’t buy into the whole God-can-contradict-Himself notion in the first place. For the believer, though, this might prove to be a serious problem, because it speaks the unspeakable. Christians have been indoctrinating each other for centuries with the idea that it’s heresy to say that Jesus is not God, yet the very Church dogmas that make it heretical to deny the deity of Christ also make it inevitable that Christians must not deny the statement “Jesus is not God.” It’s inherent in dual-nature Christology itself.
The only way we have to detect when men are lying to us about God is by looking for the contradictions that are characteristic of untruth. Only genuine truth is fully consistent with itself; the falsehoods men tell always contain contradictions, either self-contradictions or contradictions of real-world fact. There is a fundamental and inescapable self-contradiction in Christian theology regarding the so-called deity of Jesus, a whopper of a contradiction, a Big Clue that this doctrine of men is not genuine truth. If we cannot recognize this as a human-invented falsehood, then we can never detect any lie at all.